Maya Angelou left this life late last month, 86 years of life lived and lessons taught fulfilled enough for the original Phenomenal Woman to take her rightful rest. I can only imagine the things her eyes saw from her earliest days to when she closed her eyes for the last time in the early morning hours of May 28, 2014. One thing is for sure – we’re all better off for her coming by this way.
Her life story is really one to be awed by as she lived in many acts, from sex worker to sage scribe, seductive singer and dancer to civil rights hallmark, but to me, Dr. Maya Angelou’s greatest gift she left behind for all of us to enjoy and learn from is the ability to dream and live out loud.
She never hid from any part of her life, well documented in her pivotal autobiography “I know why the caged bird sings,” and in her own strength, she shepherded a nation of young black girls who would become doctors, teachers, lawyers, business professionals, moms, wives, lovers, anything they wanted to be.
It was touching, pretty much to the point of tears even, to see countless Black women, girls who had been torn down by society (and probably more frustrating, Black men) sharing testimony after testimony, lesson after lesson, awakening after awakening showing how Dr. Angelou influenced them to be better than what the doubters and nay-sayers claimed them to be.
That proves to be important because in one of these women, be it First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama or the every day Black woman, the next great voice of Black women has to rise. Maya Angelou filled that void for so long, so long that we forgot that even the ageless or the wise have a sunset. The question now is who will be the next bright light to rise.
Until then, Maya Angelou is to be thanked, applauded and celebrated for giving us a lifetime of quotes and lessons to learn from and helping Black women understand that their beauty and strength is unparalleled and deeper than even they realize at times.
And let’s not forget that she taught us all, man and woman alike that when you know who you are, no one can make you feel bad about where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.
Safe to say if there is indeed an afterlife when all this is said and done, Maya Angelou definitely has that click in her heels as she passes through the gates to join all the other great people who’ve passed on.