Monday, June 2, 2014

Maya Angelou belongs to the ages

"I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine ... before she realizes she's reading." ~ Maya Angelou

Angelou died recently at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86.
Upon her passing, President Barack Obama said: "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."

Angelou's artistic work influenced generations of readers, and she honored our campus as a recent guest of the Artist & Speakers Series. 

Some random facts from a life well lived:
  • San Francisco's first female streetcar driver at the age of 16.  
  • Waited tables to support her son while a 17-year-old single mother.  
  • Toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production "Porgy and Bess."
  • Recorded her first album, "Miss Calypso."in 1957.
  • Joined the Harlem Writers Guild in New York in 1958.
  • Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor.  
Perhaps her most famous contribution to literature, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," was a stark portrayal of racism. Part of Maya Angelou's legacy is this beautiful transmutation of ugliness into beauty:

"A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped
and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing."

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