Maya Angelou left a legacy in her writing, but also in the way she inspired those around her. From the accounts of those who knew her best, Ms. Angelou embodied the courage, hope and fearlessness of being fully herself in a world full of oppression and prejudice, still being fully alive and full of vivacity. When Ms. Angelou was remembered at her memorial last week, the words spoken reminded us of so many things we hope all girls can experience. To be empowered, true to yourself, forgiving of yourself. To find your voice, speak it loudly, and join together in sisterhood with those around you. Here are some of the words used to describe Maya Angelou and a glimpse into the power that those words can have on others.
From Former President Bill Clinton
She called our attention to the fact that things that really matter — dignity, work, love and kindness — are things we can all share and don’t cost anything. She also taught us through all those decades of challenges that life is a constant choice. Every day, you got to get up and make a choice. Will you choose light or darkness. Choose to reach out or draw in. Choose to speak out or shut up. Will you be paralyzed by your past and failures, or will you forgive yourself enough to be unchained?
From First Lady Michelle Obama
Her message was very simple. She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race. For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all of the rules with fiercely, passionate, unapologetic self. She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us. And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings. She taught us all that it is OK to be your regular old self, whatever that is. Your poor self, your broken self, you’re brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.
From Oprah Winfrey
What she knew so well, what she tried to teach all of us. We are more alike than we are different. When I see you, I’m really just looking at myself in a different costume. I am human, and therefore, nothing human is alien to me, she used to teach. So, we must carry on and pass on, lifting humanity up, helping people to live lives of purpose and dignity to pass on. The poetry of courage and respect.
In Maya Angelou's Own Words
“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
"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."
"You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody."