Things about Maya Angelou you need to know:
(1) Black children mocked Maya when she was a child, saying she was ugly.
(2) Maya felt she was lesser than black kids; and she felt she could never meet the standards of white girls.
(3) At eight-years old, Maya was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. The man was later murdered after Maya testified against him in court.
(4) Maya hated herself and struggled with the guilt of being raped. Coping in her own way, Maya became a lonely girl who refused to speak to anyone including her family.
(5) Maya, however, had someone who loved her unconditionally—her grandmother whom she called Momma.
(6) Showing Maya what many persons failed to show her—LOVE–Momma got Maya to speak normal again. She also introduced Maya to a woman who taught Maya to read.
(7) At 14, Maya dropped out of high school, but she returned again at 17-years old. Somewhere in between or afterwards (I don’t remember), she got pregnant and hid the pregnancy from her family.
(8) Ultimately, she had a son. To support her family, she worked as a stripper, and she became a member of a prostitution house.
(9) Uncomfortable with this profession, Maya began to sing in clubs. From there she met accomplished people and she went to places such as Ghana and Egypt.
(10) Due to her traveling, she became friends with Nelson Mandela. She met Malcolm X. She worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou is a testimony. She carries the battle scars. Her presence in her absence reminds us that any girl and man, and every woman and boy must rise. We cannot remain defeated. Experiences should not remain the excuses we use to keep our talents and dreams buried. Yes, we must rise as Sister Angelou has. We must refuse silence. We must rise and speak. Maya is no longer the child who refused to speak. She became a woman, a speaker of six languages, and one of the world’s favorite poets. She was also a civil rights activist. She remains an inspiration to persons of every race. And what we remember about Maya is that she is all this, yet she never sold her soul to the devil.