By Anna Daniels
SDFP contributor Ernie McCray wrote a moving tribute to Maya Angelou following the news of her death on May 28th. His poem makes reference to her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
You said, of a caged bird,
that it “stands on the grave of dreams,”
singing of what’s unknown
but still singing of someday
being free –
and you’ve helped me believe
that we can, …
For many of us, that autobiography was our first introduction to the works of Angelou. It provided a glimpse into the circumstances which would shape her life as an intellectual, civil rights activist and writer.
Musicians Nile Rodgers and Wynton Marsalis, actors Billy Dee Williams and Tyne Daley, Secretary of State John Kerry, and civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis join the non-famous in reading her poem Caged Bird.
The childhood trauma which she describes in her autobiography- rape and the subsequent death of the rapist–left Angelou unable to speak until she was thirteen years old. She spent those years of silence and sorrow listening and reading. When she found her voice the rest of her life became a testimony to the power of words.
Maya Angelou has left us. The power of her words remain to give us comfort as we continue the unfinished work of justice, the pursuit of truth and beauty.
There she goes…rising.
Video from KarmaTube
Maya Angelou spoke beyond race and gender rights issues, she spoke of the universal human spirit. I was touched to witness her speak locally at Austin Peay University back in 1998 when I was just a senior in high school. This week I was compelled to pay tribute to her with my artwork. You can see my portrait of the author along with some inspiring words of hers at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2014/05/in-memoriam-maya-angelou.html Drop by and tell me how her life’s work inspired you as well!
Anna Daniels says
Brandt- a wonderful, joyful portrait! Thanks.
bob dorn says
I’m not surprised to see two tributes to Maya Angelou in The Freep.
She was an event in our American history, and the news of her
passing continues to echo. So do Ernie’s words:
“…all the while,
teaching us the ways of “We,”
you, him, her, them, me –
all of humanity.”
Thanks to both of you for bringing her back to life.
I think of her with a calmness.Reading her work always gives me a peaceful feeling. we lost a treasure.