National Women’s History Month: Dr. Maya Angelou

In honor of National Women’s History Month, I will showcase a different woman each Monday this month. This week I will showcase the work of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have always loved Dr. Maya Angelou. I have been following her career and reading her words for as long as I can remember. It broke my heart when the LORD called her home, but I know she is at rest. I always referred to her as “My Mother of Words.” She is and will always be one of my greatest inspirations!

Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. Maya Angelou became one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. With over 50 honorary doctorate degrees Dr. Maya Angelou became a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

Like many of us, Dr. Maya Angelou had some difficulties in her childhood, and used her childhood experiences to inspire others. In her book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, she shares stories from her childhood holding nothing back! Her transparency, boldness, and honesty in this book, made her one of the first African American women to reach the bestsellers list.

She recited the poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning” at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. As a result, she became one of the best known African American authors, and sales increased significantly.

As a social justice advocate, I was not only inspired by her words, but I was also inspired by her activism. In the 1960s, she was the northern leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With Malcolm X, she helped to form the new Organization of African American Unity. She was well acquainted with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Aside from her writing and activism, she was also an actress and producer. Dr. Angelou wrote the Pulitzer-winning screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia.

I can dedicate an entire month or more discussing the life and works of Dr. Maya Angelou, but her life can be told best in her own words as depicted in her autobiography, stories, and poetry.

Sadly, the world lost this beautiful woman of GOD when she passed quietly in her home on May 28, 2014.

I will leave you with an excerpt from one of her poems.

The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important. In a time and world where males hold sway and control, the pressure upon women to yield their rights-of-way is tremendous. And it is under those very circumstances that the woman’s toughness must be in evidence.

She must resist considering herself a lesser version of her male counterpart. She is not a sculptress, poetess, authoress, Jewess, Negress, or even (now rare) in university parlance a rectoress. If she is the thing, then for her own sense of self and for the education of the ill-informed she must insist with rectitude in being the thing and in being called the thing.

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a woman called by a devaluing name will only be weakened by the misnomer. She will need to prize her tenderness and be able to display it at appropriate times in order to prevent toughness from gaining total authority and to avoid becoming a mirror image of those men who value power above life, and control over love
.”

My beautiful “Mother of Words”, today, we recognize you! 

In his service,

God bless you, 

Reverend Marshall

www.unspokencourage.com

Sources: 

BIOGRAPHY | Caged Bird Legacy (mayaangelou.com)

 Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Maya Angelou”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net 26 Jan. 2011. Updated 26 June 2017.

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