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Remembering and celebrating Maya Angelou’s inviolable voice

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maya-poetIconic poet and memoirist Maya Angelou may have exited this mundane realm, full of fret and fever of longings, but before she left she saw to it she redeemed this world with the eloquence and purity of her words. Born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928, Angelou slipped into myriad roles during her sojourn in this world. She was a critically acclaimed and adored poet, author, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, director, singer and civil rights activist. It was just a lifetime, but she lived many lives simultaneously. She told stories of herself and others that weren’t supposed to be told aloud. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969 was one such heart-wrenching autobiography of a young Maya Angelou in the Jim Crow South, abandoned by her parents and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Angelou moved and charmed generations with her genius for transmuting her life into a series of autobiographical works, including A Song Flung Up to Heaven and Gather Together in My Name.

Although she breathed her last on May 28, 2014 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the age of 86, she remains alive in the hearts of those whose lives she touched in numerous ways.

Here’s how the world has been remembering her in words and memories:

maya-obama“Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time: a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking, but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves.” – US President Barack Obama

“The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace. I will always be grateful for her electrifying reading of On the Pulse of Morning at my first inaugural, and even more for all the years of friendship that followed.” — Bill Clinton, former US president 

maya-oprah“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.”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.” – – Oprah Winfrey

“An American inspiration, American icon & American freedom fighter MayaAngelou will always be remembered and treasured.” (Will.a.am, The Black Eyed Peas in a tweet Twitter)

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou – who was utterly amazing.”  Bestselling author J. K Rowling in a tweet

“Maya Angelou has passed away. She was a great light in the world. I feel honored to live in a world she influenced and touched so deeply.” Cyndi Lauper

“A big and radiant soul, at rest at last.” – Bette Midler

 

 


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