“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time!” Likely my favorite quote from your unending catalogue of poetic rhetoric.
A woman of great gravity and gravitas, you still inspire many with your articulation. You placed every word you wrote and spoke at the altar of your heart. Shattered by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on your 40th birthday in 1968, you centered your focus and began working on your first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published a year later.
Reading your literature has provided me with the blueprint for distancing myself from cognitive dissonance, and instead, firmly standing by the courage of my convictions. You used poetry to paint the pain of your childhood rape. You endured a great deal early in your life, but you overcame—you’re an overcomer! You were a loving sister and mother—you’re a high achiever!
Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Arkansan, Bailey James Johnson, and 16-year old Vivian Althea Baxter of St. Louis. Marguerite was raised by her paternal grandmother Annie Taylor—daughter of Emmanuel and Mary Wafford Taylor of Columbia County, Arkansas. Maya’s paternal grandfather Willie Johnson was the son of Simon and Emaline Johnson.
On her maternal side, her grandfather Thomas Baxter was born in Bainbridge, Georgia to Adison and Jane Baxter. Maya’s maternal grandmother, Marguerite Savin, was born in Mississippi to a Black domestic servant, Mary Lee, and a White Irish farmer, John Savin. Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at 86 years of age.
“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou.