Maya Angelou would be 90 years old today. Although she died on May 28, 2014, her legacy continues to this day, so much so that Google dedicated a Doodle to her.
Angelou was an afro-descendant who decided to raise awareness for women's rights, fight racism and conquer more human rights. And despite having a complex life, she never stopped struggling and looking for a better society through his word.
When did she begin writing?
When she was 7 years old, she was sexually abused by her mother's partner. She denounced him and he was imprisoned for one day. Four days after leaving he was killed. Maya was silent. For five years she could not say a word. Sometime later she said that she thought her voice had killed him: "I killed that man by saying his name," she said, according to Cnet.
She did not speak for 5 years, but she found a way to communicate: she started reading Shakespeare, Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe and Afro artists such as Frances Harper, Anne Spencer and Jessie Fauset.
She devoted herself to reading and falling in love with literature until she had "the courage to rediscover her voice and overcome the trauma." Those years helped her to find in the word the mobile for social struggle and, above all, to overcome internal conflicts. It was there that she discovered that her future was not only in her throat, but in her fist, and not through violence, but in writing.
Hardworking and poet
Maya was a poet all her life. But to earn a living she worked as a cook, dancer, prostitute and, in addition, was the first African-descendant driver of the San Francisco cable car.
She wrote the screenplay for the movie Georgia in 1972 and was also the director of Down in the Delta in 1998. She was the second poet to recite a poem at Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential inauguration.
Until her last days, she continued writing and fighting for her convictions.
Always a fighter
"I learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel," said the poet. But on her 90th birthday, the world is remembering her for what she did, what she said and, also, what she made us feel with her poems.
One of her best-known poems is Still I Rise. Her words denote sadness, but at the same time strength. A lot happened in her life, but she still learned to get up and continue.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Maya left a very important legacy: getting up, despite all the obstacles that life can give us. Fight for our dreams. Do not let our fears leave us without a voice; and, if that is the case, find the way to shout, to express what we feel and what we want.
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