“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.”
– Maya Angelou
I don’t remember most of the words from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I’ve never really been one to memorize books, movies, songs, poems, etc., line-by-line. But in the 15-plus years that it’s been since I read this book, I still remember how it made me feel. And to sum it up in one word, that feeling would be “admiration.”
Maya Angelou wrote bravely of the trauma she experienced as a young child; she wrote bravely of the prejudice she experienced. But she didn’t let that trauma or that prejudice define her.
I admired her lyrical writing style, but more than that I admired her courage for simply telling her story.
Angelou may be best known for her writing, particularly for “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” but she can’t simply be defined as a writer. In her life she was a cable-car conductor, a single teen mother, a journalist, a dancer, an actress, a singer, a linguist, a civil rights activist, a songwriter and probably countless other things we simply don’t know about.
I do know she was an inspiration. She followed her dreams, refusing to remain a victim of her past.
Angelou passed away Wednesday morning, and the world is poorer for the loss.
Sara McManamy-Johnson is the digital content director for The Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.