“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” –Maya Angelou
On May 28th, the world bid a poignant goodbye to poet, author, and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou, who died quietly in her home that morning at the age of 86. Although Dr.
Angelou is no longer living, her legacy of poems, memoirs, novels, and quotes of wisdom prove that the power of words can positively impact our world.
As a writer, American, woman, mother, and human who believes in equality, peace, and compassion, I am forever grateful for Dr. Angelou’s legacy, for her willingness to pair her own pain and life experiences with words so that we could learn, understand, and grow. Dr. Angelou’s brilliant, courageous, thought-provoking, love-inspiring words have taught me the power of refusing to remain silent.
For me, the legacy Dr. Angelou bestowed upon me reaffirms that writing, communicating, and speaking are commanding tools that allow us to live, comprehend, believe, reconsider, reinvent, appreciate, promote, mature, conquer, and thrive. Words are the seeds of change and wisdom; writing and speaking are the blowing winds that allow us to release whatever it is we need to let go of in order to move forward with wisdom and strength.
Dr. Angelou possessed a miraculous gift: the ability to breathe life into simple words that, when delivered on paper for reading or spoken in her spirited voice brimming with optimism and strength, inspired nothing short of millions. Dr. Angelou gifted our world with a renewed sense of strength, peace, and hope through sharing her own life’s struggles and acutely putting to words the hardships of humanity. Her universal messages penetrated the hearts and souls of all people—humans— from all walks of life, uniting hearts and voices across race, gender, economic status, and political beliefs. She knew. She understood. She let us know.
Ironically, Dr. Angelou, a renowned public speaker, did not speak for years during her childhood after enduring a devastating nightmare no human should ever have to experience: rape and the subsequent murder of her assailant. During that time, she communicated through jotting messages on paper she kept by her side; she also began her lifelong love affair with reading and writing. Somehow, this dynamic woman had the heart and inner strength to move forward, to use her brilliance and her voice to share her plight and influence the world.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around. I’ll probably be writing when the Lord says, ‘Maya, Maya Angelou, it’s time.’” – Maya Angelou
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-by Christa Riddle