Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Caged_bird2Today, Maya Angelou died at the age of 86, a true hero to me and to women all over the world. She is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which tell of her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (first published in 1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

From Wikipedia: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to  StampsArkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.”

Beyond her struggles with the obvious bigotry and ignorance of the times, she represented to me the most beautiful thing of all–that a girl with very little education, who was blessed with a love of reading, could rise above the place society wanted to put her.

Some things I learned from her: “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”

The world is a better place because of Maya Angelou and what she represented. The literary world is a better place because of what she wrote.  Heaven is a better place, because she is there.

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