“Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get on your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes and finally into you.”
Coming from a family of strong, independent women, it was no surprise that I was introduced to strong, independent female role models at a young age.
Coming from a family of writers and storytellers, it was no surprise that I was also introduced to many influential authors at a young age.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the one person who was both of those things to me was Maya Angelou.
Angelou made words her playground. She twisted them, toyed with them and flirted with them to release potent concoctions of poems and stories. She also made words her shield—combatting racism and deflecting hate with each stanza she penned.
I remember being a little girl, blissfully unaware of what she was even talking about, but being wholly mesmerized by her recitations—the rhymes, the syncopation and the sing-songy inflections of her voice.
Her words were spiritual and assertive, somber and playful, dripping with femininity and laden with brusque truths. She was unafraid of leaping into the unknown and paving a path for women, people of color and anyone who has ever felt like there has to be something better out there.
She was, in short, nothing but unabashedly herself. She truly lived every single one of her 86 years and was kind enough to bare them to us.
As a writer, she taught me the power of words. As a woman, she taught me the power of myself. We have lost one of the greatest storytellers in American history, but she will keep on singing for eternity.
RIP, Dr. Angelou. Thank you for making words so worth it.
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