Pause For The Phenomenal Woman

The day was just waking up from her night rest when there was first a post, then another, and finally a flooded space of the news.

Dr. Maya Angelou, poet, activist, memoirist, professor, feminist, mentor, silently and sweetly left the world she so changed with the magic of her pen.

News reports, postings, pictures, quotes, connections, a lifetime of a generation or two fondly remember where they were when they first read her transformative words or heard that bass in her musical cadence.

I first encountered her book, I know why the caged bird sings, when I was a young woman seeking to free myself from my own sea of questions.  Her words invited me to be authentic and encouraged me to find healing in the power of writing.

Throughout my now 50 years, she, along with her literary sister, Toni Morrison, have been the black women literary giants at the background of my chorus, encouraging me to etch what I could not say and be released in what I could not sing.

The feeling was a moment of sheer appreciation at having encountered her bravery, her total and complete acceptance of herself, that I silently thanked her for being in my life, even though I never had the honor of being in her majestic presence.

Never a woman to be confined to just one decade and remaining ageless though her tall frame was now in a chair of wheels, she used the tools of the 21st century to continue to teach us, continue to encourage us, continue to motivate us to live our fullest life.

Her last tweet, her last facebook message will be those things that we now cherish and hold as the prophet's urging for us to continue on in this journey, to live, for that is our gift to each other.

Born in the same city as I, she stretched wide her arm to experiment, to not be confined, to see the Divine in everything and to fully be bold enough to speak truth to power, and power listened.  She lived, her eighty-six years were full and a gift.

She opened her heart and shared with the the pain of a woman and the decisions of a mother, she loved and left and still, she rose about convention to be fully whole.

I can only wish, in the next phase of my life, to take on some of the lessons she has given to us, her literary daughters, to be bold and transparent, to be honest and true, to sing of the freedom of the caged bird's release.

Rest well Mother Angelou, rest well poet, you spit a new song.


  1. Tayé I commend you for having written such a powerful, truthful, and beautiful tribute to the great Dr. Maya Angelou! Your profound words should inspire us all in the wake of her memory.

  2. I've been having trouble accepting a world without Maya Angelou. I am not ready to walk under the skies of an earth where she is a footnote of history. I shudder when I think of what it would have been like to be a woman, raising children, without her words of wisdom giving me strength, endurance, acceptance, and the confidence that comes when 'I' becomes 'we'. Thank you for helping find the strength to celebrate while mourning. You have reminded me that thanks to her, I am still not alone. I am still 'we' alongside the many she touched and empowered over the course of her life.

    1. I agree with you. How profound to recognize that none of us are ready to "walk under the skies of an earth where she is a footnote of history."


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