Angelou once said that it was her goal in writing to "write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine...before she realizes she's reading." As a reader, I say she met this goal. Her best known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is her autobiography from age 7 to 16 and depicts life in the Jim Crow South as well as the personal horrors she endured. I first read it in middle school and it remains today one of the books that has influenced me the most. The author of staggering beautiful poetry as well as a dancer and singer, Angelou was also an advocate of justice, education, and equality who worked alongside Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today, Angelou flies away from us but leaves her work as guidance for our own flight. I rejoice for the blessings the world received from her life and take comfort in the words she leaves us. Maya Angelou, you opened so many cages - may you now sing to us all from the skies. And may we all remember her by continuing to pay it forward to others with our words, actions, and time.
CNN posted a beautiful obituary of Maya Angelou. Read it here.