Renaissance Woman: Maya Angelou

I love women.  I truly do.  No offense, guys, because some of my best friends are men.  But when push comes to shove and choices have to be made about the company I keep, I’ll choose a woman.  Every time.

One of my favorite women is Maya Angelou.  I treasure images of  book covers of her books I’ve read, images of the lines of her poetry and images of  her face and presence  on a television screen.   I revere an image of  her on a presidential dais at the inauguration ceremony of an American President.  Images of her with Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leave an indelible mark on me because they are a reminder of her lifelong commitment to social justice issues and equal opportunities for all. Today when I heard she died at her home,  all those images flooded my mind.

But what I will miss most about this woman is what I hear and not what I see. The rich, slow – almost ponderous – rhythms of her speech mesmerized me, and the deep rumbling voice was like the sound of my old Dodge Dakota pickup truck’s muffler when I start it first thing in the morning.  Music to my ears.

In 1998 Maya Angelou spoke at the Second Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner and the HRC Blog today posted an excerpt from her speech that evening on the importance of gay people coming out of the closet.  I lifted an excerpt from the excerpt.

You have no idea who you will inform because all of us are caged birds,

have been and will be again.

Caged by somebody else’s ignorance.

Caged because of someone else’s small-mindedness.

Caged because of someone else’s fear and hate…

and sometimes caged by our own lack of courage.

Maya Angelou was a woman with many gifts and abilities who had the courage to use them to lift us to higher ground and take us to a place we can all call home.  A Renaissance Woman, a legend in her own lifetime, a woman of substance – all these and more. I will miss her words and the voice that gave them life.




About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Renaissance Woman: Maya Angelou

  1. Pingback: Renaissance Woman: Maya Angelou | I'll Call It Like I See It

  2. Linda Ketner says:

    Amen sister girl! She was a once in a lifetime teacher.


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