Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: The passing of a lioness

"Phenomenal Woman"
With sadness, reflection and heavy hearts we mourn the passing of Maya Angelou.

As reported by CNN:

A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights has fallen silent.

Maya Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday, said her literary agent, Helen Brann. Angelou had been "frail" and suffering from heart problems, the agent said.
Angelou's legacy is twofold. She leaves behind a body of important artistic work that influenced several generations. But the 86-year-old was praised by those who knew her as a good person, a woman who pushed for justice and education and equality.
In her full life, she wrote staggeringly beautiful poetry. She also wrote a cookbook and was nominated for a Tony. She delivered a poem at a presidential inauguration.
In 2010, President Barack Obama named her a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor.
She was friends with Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and inspired young adults and world celebrities. read more

In contemporary society, there is an overuse of the terms iconic and legendary. These words -- often misused to describe pop-artist talent -- are very casually assigned. Consequently, the luster and potency have little luster and potency.

Maya Angelo is a noted exception.

Her extraordinary and well documented journey through life exemplified courage over fear; triumph over poverty; freedom over oppression; and enlightenment over ignorance.

The well accomplished Maya Angelou taught American studies at Wake Forest University -- even though she never attended college. The best selling author and poet once stated:

"I created myself...I have taught myself so much."

And we have been blessed to learn from her as well. In her own words, one of my favorite poems:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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