Celebrating Inspirational Women: Dr.Maya Angelou

By: Cinthya Rubio, Marketing and Communications Director @ Our Hands For Hope

On May 28th 2014, at the age of 86, Dr. Maya Angelou became “a rainbow in the clouds“. Like most beloved leaders, her passing has created a movement of sorrow but has made us remember the many lessons she shared with the world through her beautiful smile, unforgettable voice, and wise words.

Maya Angelou

Most see her as a celebrated poet, novelist, educator, producer, actress, dramatist, filmmaker, historian, and civil right activist; amazingly enough she was also San Francisco’s first African-American female car conductor, single teen mother, waitress, and cook. She traveled the world and mastered languages such as Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish and West African Fanti. She emerged from struggle and bloomed to become a beautiful, strong, wise and confident woman. It is exemplary people like her that give humanity hope, hope to transform ourselves and bloom as well.

Maya Angelou

Her words and teachings went beyond race, gender, age, sexual preference, and religion. Her desire for humanity to unveil itself to show compassion, tolerance, and love broke barriers in the minds of many and freed us from hate and ignorance.

“I am human being, nothing human can be alien to me”. We need to remember this at all times, we need to empathize with those around us, care about the well being of all people and not only of those we know.

To me, Maya Angelou was one of the most inspiring figures that crossed many generational gaps. When reading her poems, and listening to her words, it almost seemed as if she knew who I was, as if she could feel the inner struggles I fight with. The resonance with which each syllable is written was strong enough to create a change within me, and I thank her for that.

Her love for humanity was amazing, but even more so was her love for being a woman. She did not hide behind stereotypes, she did not shame her body, she embraced every inch of her womanhood and the power bestowed upon her. I end this tribute for the woman I wish I had met, the woman I look up to, the woman I will never forget.

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou

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