1. SHE HAD IT ALL!
She was victim to all sorts of oppression and marginalization – from racism to childhood sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend. She also worked as a commercial sex- worker and bar dancer, which introduced her to the worst form of stigma one can ever face. She was a black woman who lived off the streets and traded her art for survival, practically all her life.
2. WHAT IT DID TO HER:
She still had the strength to stand up, fight back, and challenge the structures of the system. She was an active part of the African- American Civil Rights Movement, where she worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
3. WHEN SOMETHING TROUBLED HER:
She inspired the world to pick the battles they believe in. If something affects you, do something to change it! This is your life. Do it! Change the world. She was a strong believer of the Gandhian principles and said that we cannot wish bad for others, but we need to protect ourselves, for which we need to stand up to our choices. Say NO when it’s NO!!
4. ON FRIENDSHIP:
She knew the best recipe to have friends. She believed that in order to have a friend, one must be a friend.
5. HER SENSE OF SELF:
She had so many names. From Marguerite Annie Johnson to Mya, what her elder brother fondly called her, to Rita- the Calypso dancer, to Maya Angelou, as we will always know and remember her, she retained an identity that was intrinsic to her existence. It evolved over the years. She didn’t associate anybody’s identity with their name, where they came from or what class they belonged to. She didn’t other people and that’s what kept her and the world around her so bright.
Feature Pic Credit: CT Counselling
6. WAY OF LIFE:
Passion drove her. To quote her own words, “passion, compassion, humor and style”. Her passion was not for her work or art or literature or poetry. Rather, Maya Angelou was passionate about every moment that she lived. She felt it, and hence could take the best out of it. She was a great writer, one of the most popular calypso artists, also her poetry came to be known as the anthem of African Americans.
7. ON KARMA:
She spoke about feelings and emotions and the energy that we create around us. Her simple words are a reminder how all that we do or say translates into making someone feel a certain way, and that to make-feel good is what we should direct all our actions towards, if we are to live in happiness and peace.
8. WHAT SHE TAUGHT US:
She taught the world to accept the beauty in all the diversity that has made up this world. She explained to the world that how every person is a sum total of his/ her own experiences, ‘of everything she has ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot’. It can never be the same way for all of us. We are all bound to respond to the same situation in a zillion different ways.
9. ONE FOR THE WOMEN!
She translated all her negative experiences as a young girl into building inspiring literature and music for women. She gave the women of the 80’s the strength to be empowered to claim their space in the public sphere, to claim the right to be heard; in a male dominated society where men controlled the poetry and hip-hop culture of the time.
Her unapologetic, highly opinionated, fierce writing style and its popularity is reassurance to people that silences can and must be broken. She presents the painful realities of the world in quite a subtle and yet honest manner. What her career also tells us is that you can make various different choices in life, you will end up in greatness if you ‘love what you do and are willing to make sacrifices for it’.