It was May 28, 2014 when I learned that Maya Angelou, one of my biggest inspirations had died. My first reaction was disbelief. I had to check other sources.  I shook my head and shed some tears. But being I’m the author of the book “She Rose” I felt obligated to broadcast her home going to my folks online. I wrote: It’s official Maya Rose. Maya Angelou. She Rose.


The night before I couldn’t sleep. I was reflecting on my own life. Was I really doing my very best?  Was I mindful of my choice words and their energy? Was I showing up as a rainbow in someone else’s cloud? These are some of the lessons she taught me in her books and what I heard her echo, the one and only time I saw her speak live. Was I really picking up the torch? Was I on track? Heaven knows I want to be known for one who is truly running for love, freedom and justice, just like the doc.  Ms. Maya Angelou loved her people and wrote work that was intended to inspire the depressed and oppressed and her contributions as a creative soul did indeed better the race. Her work as an activist, actress,  singer, dancer, director, producer, educator and poet was interlaced in one universal message of self-acceptance and love, therefore she also impacted others outside her race.


She lived a full life because she was willing to laugh, question and seek.  She caused me to want to be more grateful and research more. She’s one of the reasons I produced my poetic affirmation CD based on the principles of Kwanzaa. She was in the race and running it with her favorite virtue or principle of all courage. Maya was like a last living testament from the right hand of Malcolm, Martin, Baldwin, Haley, Ailey and Mandela. Oh my. Monumental. When you are sensitive and see as much death as she did at an early age, I think it makes one live on purpose and with passion. It makes you want to run faster towards your goals.

The night before her death I was thinking about my own run. Then in a random online search I found this AMAZING video in the middle of the night on my Face Book friend Adisa Iwa’s wall.

It reminded me of my poem “I run” and of the one line I forgot to say during my address to the 2014 graduates. The fact is we are all underdogs sometime and we all fall but the rewards go to those institutions and people who get up the fastest and our determined to run on and see what the end might be with faith and a purpose in their hearts.

What an evolving and moving metaphor for self-determination Maya Angelou was. She’s the shero for anyone who believes in grace, mercy and miracles. She was a single mother at 16 but eventually studied at least 6 languages and has honorary doctorate degrees because she valued education, diversity and her traveling shoes that God gave her. So yes, it’s time to give thanks to Maya because it used to be a lot worst before she rose for all of us. There are very few political leaders, entertainers and educators she did not touch in the past 50 years the world over with her presence. She rose from a girl to a goddess just to remind us that we all can rise, above challenges, hate and ignorance, no matter what, because for most of us the path is paved. So I’m still rising in her honor to make her proud.

I think her Eulogy for Correta Scott King, her sister and friend, was one of her best presentations ever but I also love to see her in church settings.  You can search any of her countless quotes and I’m certain it will cause you to ponder and pause. May her words live on in the hearts of future generations. Here’s two of my favorite presentations by her:


This is me reciting “Still I Rise” for those who missed my performance on February 7th at the first ever Black Success Seminar on Mills College’s campus. The sponsoring organization’s name was also influenced by Dr. Angelou and her legacy. I secretly want streets named after her, a holiday and a government shut down on the day of her funeral, given I know too much of what she has meant to the human race. If it doesn’t happen I will channel my anger and continue to write about her and all who share her spirit and smile knowing in the end, LOVE WINS.

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