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Oprah posts loving tribute to Maya Angelou

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Those who knew Maya Angelou and others inspired by her life, wisdom and words were remembering her Wednesday.

“Phenomenal Woman” — the title of Angelou’s poem celebrating the strength of women — quickly trended worldwide on Twitter. Celebrity tweets also included “true inspiration,” “hero” and “national treasure.”

Others needed more than Twitter’s 140 characters to express their personal loss.

— Oprah Winfrey called Angelou her “mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20’s.”

“She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life,” Winfrey said. “The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ is one of my best lessons from her.”

“She won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”

— President Barack Obama called Angelou “one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.”

“Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things — an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer,” Obama said. “But above all, she was a storyteller — and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking — but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.”

— President Bill Clinton said “America has lost a national treasure.”

“The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace,” the former president said. “I will always be grateful for her electrifying reading of ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ at my first inaugural, and even more for all the years of friendship that followed.”

“Now she sings the songs the Creator gave to her when the river ‘and the tree and the stone were one.'”

— President George W. Bush said Angelou was “among the most talented writers of our time.”

“Her words inspired peace and equality and enriched the culture of our country. We are grateful for the work she leaves behind, and we wish her the peace she always sought.”

— Filmmaker Tyler Perry said Angelou was one of “a handful of people in my life who have moved me, inspired me, encouraged me, and helped mold the man I am today.”

“Her words and her spirit are too powerful to leave this earth with her passing. Her legacy and poems will take wings, forever landing at the foundation of anything that betters humanity. Dr. Maya Angelou will live on in all of us who called her a phenomenal woman, phenomenally.”

— Music producer Quincy Jones, who collaborated with Angelou on two songs for the soundtrack of the 1968 film “For Love of Ivy,” said this: “As an author and poet, Maya Angelou’s ability to channel God’s voice and express the feelings deep within all of humanity will never be matched by another. She gave us words when we could find none, and helped us to see clearly when the light was dimmest.”

— Jim Caldwell, head coach of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, knew Angelou from the days he coached football at Wake Forest, where she was a professor: “She was extremely impactful. You look at just the body of her work and what a difference that made for our society from a cultural standpoint, and from a social standpoint as well. She influenced a number of students and folks, like myself, who worked there at the university, who had the great fortune of coming into contact with her.”

— Civil rights activist and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young called Angelou “an activist poet.”

“She was one of the most positive people on this planet-through her life, her wisdom, her poetry and prose she lifted the aspirations and nurtured the spirits of everyone she touched. She worked for Martin Luther King in the early days of the civil rights movement. She was a friend and confidante to Nelson Mandela and to me. Maya inspired young girls to grow into ‘Phenomenal Women.’ She walked with Kings, Presidents and Nobel Prize winners and never lost the common touch.”

— Major League Baseball executive Frank Robinson said the league would honor Angelou with its 2014 Beacon of Life Award this Friday.

“All of us at Major League Baseball mourn the loss of the incomparable Dr. Maya Angelou, who led a full and accomplished life and left an indelible impact on our society. Today we have lost one of our greatest voices, but Dr. Angelou’s words will live on and will continue to inspire generations to come. With a heavy heart, the National Pastime will honor Dr. Angelou at this weekend’s Civil Rights Game in a manner befitting her remarkable legacy.”

Celebrity Twitter reactions

Rihanna: “Angel. #RIPMayaAngelou The first book I read as a teenager, “I know why the caged bird sings”. Felt like we knew her”

Ellen DeGeneres: “Today the world lost one of it’s greatest gifts. I’m sending love to the friends and family of Maya Angelou.”

Pharrell Williams: “Saddened by the news of Maya Angelou’s passing. A brilliant woman who contributed so much to the world. Her light will be sorely missed.”

J.K. Rowling: “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou – who was utterly amazing.”

Common: “I was thinking about her lately. GOD Bless the Soul of one if my heroes. Dr Maya Angelou”

Steve Harvey: “Sad to hear the news of Maya Angelou passing. She is a true inspiration and will be missed.”

Eva Longoria: “The world lost an incredible woman today who inspired me and millions of others. #RIP Maya Angelou”

Terry McMillan: “We were fortunate to have Maya Angelou embrace our sense of self and humanity when many of us were losing or had lost faith.”

Lenny Kravitz: “There are no words…”

Pitbull: “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Omar Epps: “RIP Maya Angelou! Thank you for sharing your gifts.”

Kellie Pickler: “RIP Maya Angelou – A woman of Grace, Wisdom, Kindness & Love…we can all learn from your beautiful…”

Erik Estrada: “RIP Maya Angelou. Your words have changed peoples thinking & sometimes their behavior. Thank you for sharing your life with so many.”

Olivia Wilde: “RIP Maya Angelou, a badass woman who saw the impossible as merely a dare.”

Maria Shriver: “God bless @DrMayaAngelou. A woman who used her voice to raise up, inspire and educate. Her words will live on in everyone who reads them.”


  • ThePoet Darkling

    She Sang

    In memory of Maya Angelou

    They clipped her wings, but still she flew
    Beyond the confines of her cage.
    They tied her feet, they bound her hands,
    But she broke through those bars of rage.

    She lived her life as the free bird
    As if they’d never locked her door;
    She flew, but she never forgot
    The bindings she’d left on the floor;

    Her voice was stifled, yet she sang
    In each line she wrote on the page;
    She sang and danced to her own song –
    And she made the world her stage.

    She sang for every woman
    Who lived her life in fear or doubt;
    Lending her voice to the voiceless,
    Showing the shackled a way out.

    She broke the bonds of slavery,
    Through her poetry, with her prose.
    She lived the lessons that she taught
    And, like the dust and air, she rose!

    © 2014 The Poet Darkling™

  • Brandy Brandezo

    I read this poem by Erickka Sy Savane and was beyond moved.

    I just heard that my favorite library has burned. When I got the news I wanted to cry, “Why this library and not another? This library, though old and frail, still had so much more to give. Just recently it was set to be given another award for its incredible contribution to the world. I can’t help but wonder what my life might have been without this library.

    You see, I discovered it when I was just 12 years old. It’s not that I had never seen a library, I remember being rolled into libraries in a red wagon alongside my brother before I even knew what to do. There was something special about this one. This library was beautiful. But not in the way of perfectly painted walls or high prestine ceilings, this library was worn and rough around the edges from a life that hadn’t been too kind. This library was filled with character and boasted stories so captivating that one had to stop.
    There was tragedy, triumph and enough resilience to make anyone feel that if the worst were to happen in his own life somehow it would all be okay.
    And let’s not forget the words. Words zipping around in circles intertwining reconfiguring decomposing creating new ways to say things old and new. Ultimately, landing on the page like a beautiful symphony. This library was cool in the way that Miles Davis was. I would come to this place every day after school because there really was nothing greater to do.

    Then one day I moved to the Big City and discovered bigger libraries in beautiful places with new books filled with slicker vocabulary, hip hop themes and caviar dreams. Before you know it, I forgot all about that library.

    Then babies are born, rent is due, and there’s no time for libraries. Books even seem a luxury from a life lived long ago. I’m in the middle of washing dishes when I get the news that my favorite library has burned. I’m stunned into silence because though I knew it would have to happen one day, because let us not forget this library was old enough to be deemed a historical landmark, I can’t help but feel the loss. I would have visited more had I known that it might not be here forever.

  • Sharon

    In Memory of Dr. Maya Angelou

    Thee depth of life within thee eyes reflects thy known to be
    Of greatness to thy life abounds’ bestowed on her by He
    Yet heartened to thy life to give’ to all who seek her name
    Thy wisdom of thee God of Lord’ predestined to ordain
    Humility and sacrifice’ grandeur’ blessed reign
    Thy servants’ gifts to guide her path’ to heal thy Temple strain
    Thy words reform thy healing past’ of all be known to thee
    Thy love abounds’ thy utter sounds’’ surpass humanity
    Tis Grace allowed’ as Grace ascends’ back into thy hands
    To greet the Morning Son of God’ her mission on command
    Thy eyes may bare thy weariness’ thy soul has tempered fires
    Thy gift of life’ given to thee’ obey her Lord’s desires
    Thy calling has been rendered’ and thy servant has been just
    Thy Glory is thy Savior’ to thy servant is thy Bless
    Thy mourners’ tis thy Wisdom’ of Dr. Maya Angelou
    Thy body has been laden’ as thy Spirit yearns to go

    My Deepest Gratitude for your answering your calling in life’

    Dr. Angelou, I Love and Thank you,
    Author Sharon Lee Grace

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