Reflecting on the great Maya Angelou

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When Dr. Maya Angelou took her final breath this week, the world lost a literary genius and the African-American community lost a purveyor of truth, an advocate and a true symbol of what hard work, self-determination and love of all people embodies.

When Angelou passed away, many of us who respect her journey and her craft were silenced. In that silence, I reflected on the contributions she made to this world through her words. I reflected on the obstacles she overcame throughout her life – from being raped as a child and essentially becoming a mute for nearly six years – not uttering a word.

I also reflected on the impact Angelou has had on my life. I’ve always viewed her as a fearless woman who turned tragic and uncertain times into educational moments that would lead to her using her words to not only heal herself, but also empower others.

Angelou’s journey in life taught me that you don’t have to be the size of a supermodel, you don’t have to possess a certain standard of beauty and you don’t have to have a powerful familial lineage to be great. You just have to be who you are and live the life God has predetermined for you…if you’re uncertain where your journey will take you.

You have to be courageous, bold and unapologetically you.

Angelou, in all her greatness, was unapologetically authentic in her life’s quest. Her spirit captivated me.

I am a big fan of Angelou’s writing and poetry – especially some of her more popular works such as I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise. One of my all-time favorite Angelou poems is “Alone.” Poetry is all about interpretation. I interpret this poem to be a call to action of sorts for us to step outside ourselves and embrace the positive aspects of being more inclusive people: individually and collectively. Following is “Alone.”

Lying, thinking

Last night

How to find my soul a home

Where water is not thirsty

And bread loaf is not stone

I came up with one thing

And I don’t believe I’m wrong

That nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires

With money they can’t use

Their wives run round like banshees

Their children sing the blues

They’ve got expensive doctors

To cure their hearts of stone.

But nobody

No, nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely

I’ll tell you what I know

Storm clouds are gathering

The wind is gonna blow

The race of man is suffering

And I can hear the moan,

‘Cause nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone

Nobody, but nobody

Can make it out here alone.

http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_61deb0c6-e73f-11e3-ad08-0019bb2963f4.html

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