Maya Angelou (1928-2014) Gets Her Traveling Shoes


Dr. Maya Angelou, the great voice of American letters and human rights, who grew up in the tiny town of Stamps, Arkansas, is dead at age 86. She died at her home in North Carolina where she was teaching at Wake Forest University.

Maya Angelou’s writing and voice imprinted on me at an early age. My Mom and Grandmother are from Magnolia, Arkansas, 18 miles east of Stamps on Rt. 82. She wrote about her experiences in “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”

In 1982, she traveled with Bill Moyers back to Stamps – the first time she’d returned since leaving as a teenager, for a piece titled “The Black Side of the Tracks” (see video clip above).

On Jan. 20, 1993, she returned American poetry to its place in democracy when she was asked to be the poet for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Her reading of On The Pulse of Morning, written for the occasion, was reminiscent of Robert Frost’s reading of The Gift Outright at Kennedy’s inauguration–but her poem and voice carried the voice of the ancestors and the prophets. It has become a classic of American literature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s