When did I first hear of Maya Angelou? It may have been when my Mom was a college student. Her major was African-American studies. She brought home some of Maya Angelou’s works, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I was a conservative at the time, so I liked Maya’s poem that was criticizing white liberals. Perhaps I had a sense that she thought that white liberals talked a good game but doubted whether they were fully committed to the African-American struggle for freedom. I don’t know how much of the poem I understood then. I just liked that she was criticizing white liberals!
I think that my Mom and my Grandma went to hear her speak.
In high school, we students had to watch Channel One, which was a daily news program. It featured Maya Angelou reciting her poems a couple of times. In 1993, we watched Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and she read one of her poems there. I also saw a commercial in which Maya’s poem, “Still I Rise,” was recited, and I found it to be powerful.
I thought about Maya Angelou not long ago because I was going through the Touched by an Angel series, and she was on one of the episodes. That was cool, that she was on that show! I had vague recollections of her poem at Clinton’s inauguration, so I decided to watch it on YouTube.
Rest in peace, Maya Angelou.