“A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends” this comes from a moving poem that a majority of people may recognize, continuing on to say “and dips his wing in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky”: these words from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings are but a few that came from one of the most renowned poets, Dr. Maya Angelou.
On the morning of May 28, much of the populace nationwide had to say goodbye to the beautiful soul of one of its wisest and tender voices. Since born into the world as Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928, Angelou has had numerous accomplishments. She was a singer/songwriter, mentor, Civil Rights activist, professor as well as an actress to name a few. Having starred in movies such as 1977’s Roots and 1993’s Poetic Justice, this film making the poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ recognized amongst a majority of women, she became a steady, yet persistent force throughout life. This is saying much about the Phenomenal Woman after having to overcome certain events in childhood; she had been despoiled by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of 8-years-old. It is stated that Angelou then went mute up until she was 13 years of age after finding out that the rapist had been murdered because she felt at fault.
When words began to flow from her mouth once more Angelou exceled in speaking five foreign languages and went to reside in Africa where she met Malcolm X. This led her to be a prominent voice in Civil Rights in the 1960’s due to his powerful influence. “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible” said this beautiful soul whilst striving for equality during the Civil Rights Movement. The world renowned author also left her mark in the world of education as a professor at Wake Forest University where it was said that she gave a voice to a new generation of people. Maya Angelou, in later years, was known to have been a mentor to the TV show host, Oprah Winfrey, saying that when a person reveals who they truly are to you, believe in them.
Leading up to her last moments reports say that Angelou fell under an unexpected illness, which sent her to the hospital, and had been battling a few other health issues prior to her death. According to her son, the passing of Angelou’s beautiful soul occurred within the walls of her home. The appearance of the civil rights activist at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon was missed due to said health problems. Back in the year 2005 when George W. Bush was in the position of present, Maya Angelou arrived at the White House tree lighting ceremony where she left grand words of poetry resounding with the ears of those that attended the event. “We hear sweetness. We hear it in a simple word. The word we hear that sounds so sweet is ‘peace’. It is loud now. Louder still than the explosion of bombs,” she read.
“Rising high,” she wrote, “high above me…a constant call up from misery,” she continues, “leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise into daybreak miraculously clear. And still I rise.”
In the many years that she lived, with all the things she accomplished, Angelou certainly did what was necessary in order to rise high. Many condolences to the family and friends of this historian have gone out from a large amount of citizens. It is seen on a few Facebook pages dedicated to her that a majority of comments hold the inspirational and wise words of her poetry. With many people around the world feeling this loss it is clear that the beautiful soul of Maya Angelou shall surely be missed.
By Isis E. Stevens