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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Celebrated Poet and Author Maya Angelou Dies at 86

American poet and author, Maya Angelou, died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina yesterday at the age of 86. Her son, Guy B Johnson, confirmed the news in a statement and said,  "She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love."

The celebrated poet and author was to be honored this Friday with the Beacon of Life Award at Major League Baseball's Civil Rights Game when she fell ill and had to cancel. Angelou has received more than 30 honorary degrees from universities around the world. She published 7 autobiographies,
including the 1969 memoir 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', 3 books of essays, and several books of poetry.

Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. She grew up between St. Louis and the then-racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas. The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother's boyfriend raped her. He was 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," she said. From the silence, a louder voice was born.

Oprah Winfrey released a statement calling Angelou her mentor, "mother/sister" and friend. "She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give' is one of my best lessons from her," Winfrey said. 

But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it's how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.

May her soul rest in peace. I love this poem of hers so much. Read below.......

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.

Maya Angelou

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