Continuing the theme for Black History month, this weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to the iconic Maya Angelou. I’d wanted to do a Writer’s Quote post on Maya for a long time but I was afraid that I couldn’t do her justice, but after tackling W.E.B. Du Bois last week I feel a little more comfortable.
I doubt there is anyone out there who has not at least heard of Maya Angelou and is aware of how influential she is. She was a great author and poet, and also a dancer, singer, and an actress. She is best known for her autobiographies but there were many more essays, poems, plays. According to Wikipedia she has received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees!
As a participant in the civil rights movement she was close with both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. She described her relationship with Malcolm X as a brother/sister relationship and was devastated after his death. She had agreed to work with Dr. King just before his assassination, on her birthday. She stopped celebrating her birthday for years after, choosing instead to send flowers to King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.
Her death last year saddened me deeply. I won’t pretend to have been a follower of all her works or to have know much about her before writing this but I did know she was a great woman and I did know she was an amazing writer. I knew that the world had lost someone who could never be replaced. There will never be another Maya Angelou.
As a young girl I read her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which covers her early childhood and her teenage years up until about the age of 17. I feel in love immediately with her easy writing style and her courage. The way wrote so openly and bluntly about her abuse and hardships was something to admire. The way she overcame her abuse and hardships to become a great writer is something to be in awe of.
When I am writing I am trying to figure out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.
— Maya Angelou
This quote definitely speaks to the writer in me. The reason I am drawn to writing is to use it to work out this weird thing we call the human condition. We are all so different from each other and yet so alike. We know so much about the brain but nothing of the spirit. Why is it that we do the things that we do? The human condition is to suffer and yet we rise again and again, why? Who are we? What are we? These question plague my mind, they always have.
It is through writing that I hope to answer these questions for myself. I know I probably won’t come to very many conclusions but even the act of asking the question fulfills me and gives me hope. I think us humans are an interesting animal and we may turn out to be something special after all. But even if we aren’t, and I find we aren’t very important in the grand scheme of things after all, that, to me, would be just as interesting too.