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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spotlight: Honoring Maya

Photograph by Bob Richman
I fell in love with Maya Angelou in the back corner of a public library. It was a middle school summer, and a few of Miss Angelou's works were mentioned in a summer reading list. I picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and didn't let go until closing time. Maya Angelou had a magnetic quality - I would sit patiently at the feet of her poetry and books, hanging on to every word. She brought so many of us under her wing - providing rest in her words and comfort in her voice. I don't know how the world will go on without her passion, but I know heaven is rejoicing to have Maya home.
"There's nothing greater than a 'thank you.' That's what you say to God"- Maya Angelou
Thank you Maya.
Thank you for reminding me that there is no shame in being a black woman who loves herself fiercely.
Thank you for encouraging me to read more, do more, and love more.
Thank you for rising, living, and thriving.

May you rest in power, peace, and great abundance.

Photograph by G. Marshall Wilson for Ebony, 1957
Below is a compilation of some of my favorite quotes and poems from Maya Angelou. 
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.
"On the Pulse of Morning"
You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego. Love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'I love you. I love you if you're in China. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I'd like to have your arms around me. I'd like to hear your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now, so I love you. Go.'
Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.  
I’d like everybody to think of a statement by Terence. The statement is, “I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” If you can internalize the least portion of that, you will never be able to say of an act, a criminal act, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” No matter how heinous the crime, if a human being did it, you have to say, “I have in me all the components that are in her or in him. I intend to use my energies constructively as opposed to destructively.” If you can do that about the negative, just think what you can do about the positive! If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, 'Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.' That's one thing I'm learning.
You can only become great at that thing you are willing to sacrifice for.
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
"A Brave and Startling Truth" 

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