It is difficult for me to automatically speak on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart, but I would have remiss if I did not speak about my Maya Angelou. I needed time to process your passing and get pass my initial feelings of shock, so here is my letter to you.
I remember the first time I heard you speak, it was in Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri- Columbia. You sat in a black chair that was high off the ground and had the arm extenders to rest your arms . You illuminated the room with your presence and it was absolute silence as we hung on to every word that you spoke. The funny thing about it is that any one, who has ever visited the campus, knows that it is a very racially segregated place. Yet, people of all ages, races and cultural backgrounds came to hear you speak. It was incredible. How this one little woman had the power to command such a wide audience. You were like the Giver, who held the collective memory of the community and everyone in the audience was Jonas, taking their own pieces of your memory and storing it in their hearts. What I remember most, were the stories of your uncle Willie, who was handicapped and hid in either the potato box or sack in the front of the store, when the KKK came around. And the lawyer, who he helped as a boy, that never forgot his kindness and bestowed it upon many years later.
Your uncle had a huge impact on you and many others; he was the rainbow in your cloud. The moral of your story as I gathered, was that we did not have to have much in form of money, so long as we compensated with love. You said for us to be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud, and you were mine. I heard you speak two additional times and while the story line remained the same, my spirit was renewed every time. I have never been one to seek human idols, as I do not place any man on a pedestal, but yours was well deserved. See, with all that you had been through and every thing that you had seen, you still managed to love. You forgave and did not harbor hatred, when it was so easy to do so. And, that was powerful beyond measure. I seek to strive to be more like you, but at times I cannot seem to get past my own ill feelings towards certain groups of people in order to conquer myself. But I thank you. I thank you for your love, for your wisdom, for the sacrifices that it cost you to be who you were. I thank God for your life and I pray that he multiplies your spirit amongst the living so that we may be half of what you were. I met an angel 3 times, but now you truly have your wings, so rest well my lady. We love you!