Quiet please, Maya Angelou has passed.
The award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou died last night at the age of 86, but what a life she lived, what a voice she had, and oh the things she said and did.
Poet. Novelist. Educator. Producer. Actress. Filmmaker, Civil rights activist. Singer. Dancer. And even, at just 14, San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor.
Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, she never went to college, though she received over 50 honorary degrees and was Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Angelou got into writing after a childhood tragedy that kept her from speaking for years: at age 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her, and he was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him.
“My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years.”
From the silence, a louder voice was born. A voice that spoke to all people regardless of color or age or gender or orientation.
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings.
Maya should have the last word, via her last Tweet: