Caged Bird, Free

I first met Michele when she was an ESL student at one of the roughest high schools in New York. She had just moved from Haiti to Brooklyn where she slept on the floor in a Crown Heights tenement. In the subsequent years, Michele became first black woman valedictorian of Colgate University, graduated from Harvard Law, and became a law professor. So I will let Michele’s words describe the impact of Maya Angelou: “As a young girl, she confirmed the yearnings of my heart and reaffirmed that: one must dance to the beat of one’s own drum, must never allow anyone to denigrate or oppress one’s spirit or body, and, no difficulties are so impossible that spirit and love cannot not conquer them.” Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1993 Presidential Inaugural Poet, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died at the age of 86. Here is the NYT Obituary.

+ “I was raped when I was very young. I told my brother the name of the person who had done it. Within a few days the man was killed. In my child’s mind — seven and a half years old — I thought my voice had killed him. So I stopped talking for five years.” Angelou interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review.

+ How Maya Angelou became San Francisco’s first African-American female streetcar conductor.

+ “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 21 Maya Angelou quotes to live by.

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