I never met Maya Angelou. That’s has long been my loss.
Today we have all lost a woman of words and inspiration. According to Winston-Salem, NC mayor Allen Joines, Angelou was found deceased by her caregiver this (Wednesday) morning. She was 86 years old. She became a living symbol at Wake Forest University where she held the school’s first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. But, she was much more than that. She was a model of how education and learning from life’s lessons can take someone from humble beginnings to a revered wordsmith and teacher of life.
The likes of her will likely never come again.
Her later-in-life association with Oprah Winfrey put her in the public eye..and brought her works: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Phenomenal Woman among many others..in front of younger connoisseurs of her lofty prose and poetry.
I can think of no other moment that solidified her greatness than Inauguration Day, 1993. Bill Clinton’s first ascension to President of the United States was punctuated by this recitation by Ms. Angelou herself.
For many of us today, there are no words to express our loss. But, I think many of Maya Angelou’s words and works will be the benefit of a renaissance of interest. That is as it should be.
Hail and farewell, Maya Angelou. Sing away..for you are caged no more.