Friday Hoyden: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of the great figures of literature, and of humanity, of the modern age. Her death on Wednesday will be a sorrow to many, but also a prompt to stop and think about her outsized contribution to the total of both the justice and the beauty that exists in our world.

Sady Doyle on Twitter registered a surprise that I too felt: “For some reason she seemed particularly eternal to me.” I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings will always hold its place as one of the pinnacles of literary expression. Her famous, long ago, statement that “Shakespeare was a black woman” has always been important to me, as it offered a path to finding ways to claim elements of the dominant culture for the marginalised, rather than excluding ourselves further by rejecting great works of art and thought that some have tried to say are not for us.

Here is her family’s statement from her official website:

“Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

Head and shoulders of Maya Angelou in black dress, hands clasped.

Maya Angelou

Here are some links to responses to the news:

Her obituary in The Guardian.

From Racialicious.

From Shakesville, and also quoting US President Obama’s statement.

Here is 10 minutes of video via MSNBC with commentary by Michael Eric Dyson, Dr James Peterson and Zerlina Maxwell.

The Huffington Post has linked “9 Inspiring Maya Angelou Poems You Can Read Online”.

Thoughts to her family and those many others who loved her.


Categories: arts & entertainment, social justice

Tags: ,

1 reply

  1. Angelou is one of the many writers on my “why haven’t I read this yet?” list – I’ve only skimmed a few extracts in weekend features. She’s had an intriguing life and a powerful voice.

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