It’s starting to feel like everyone good is leaving us. I feel like I say this about all the women that I love, but Maya Angelou is by far the most likely candidate for the title of: “Baddest Bitch of All Time.” Simply untouchable. I honestly don’t believe anyone has lived life as fully as she did. If you read it in pieces, you might think her obituary was detailing the lives of many, rather than one woman.
“she delivered the inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president”
“In February 2011, President Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.”
“she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend.”
“Believing that her words had brought about the death, Maya did not speak for the next five years.”
“she studied dance and drama at the California Labor School and became the first black woman to work as a streetcar conductor there.”
“she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.”
“she describes her brief unsuccessful stint as a prostitute and brief successful one as a madam”
“After the marriage dissolved, she embarked on a career as a calypso dancer and singer”
“she occasionally partnered in San Francisco with Alvin Ailey in a nightclub dance act known as Al and Rita.”
“Ms. Angelou became romantically involved with Vusumzi L. Make, a South African civil rights activist. She moved with him to Cairo,”
“After leaving Mr. Make — she found him paternalistic and controlling, she later wrote — she moved to Accra, Ghana,”
“On returning to New York, Ms. Angelou helped Malcolm X set up the Organization of Afro-American Unity”
“But she remained best known for her memoirs, a striking fact in that she had never set out to be a memoirist.”
If that isn’t LIVING, I don’t know what is.
Many have been writing about and posting their favorite Maya Angelou poems and quotes in remembrance of her. I of course remember reading “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and “Still I Rise,” but my favorite quote from her is from an interview where she said: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” It’s certainly not the most poetic thing she ever said but it feels like one of the realest. I remember feeling like she was speaking directly to me and that if I went out and kicked ass, Maya would be proud of me.
At the risk of sounding trivial, the death of Maya Angelou sucks. It just sucks. A number of people expressed their disbelief by saying that it seemed like Maya Angelou was someone who would live forever. She is gone now but in her absence I plan on living like she’s still with us–being inspired by her life, following the trails she’s carved and most importantly, doing my best to make her proud.