MayaLike so many others across the globe, I have spent the latter part of this week mourning the death of Dr. Maya Angelou. And like so many others around the world, I join the plethora of people who have written tributes, blog posts, poems, songs, kind words, speeches and so much more in her honor.

Even as I have anxiously anticipated sitting to write, I am overwhelmed with all that I could share and much of what I know I will not. I toyed with the idea of re-posting my favorite Maya Angelou poems, but decided against it. I entertained thoughts of writing a detailed piece of how much I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings touched my soul and still remains one of my favorite novels and also changed my mind about it. And I also envisioned a post about my love of poetry and how it was indeed my repeated encounters with Maya Angelou that allowed me to embrace a different form of creative writing.

What I have resigned to share are two thoughts. One is that as I read so many posts from Brown and Black women like me, I wondered just how many have no idea who Dr. Angelou is, have never read a single line of any of her work and may in fact be wondering what all the fanfare is about. I thought about writing seminars, literature classes and spoken word events in which no one ever utters her name or gives tribute to a single piece of work by her. I reflected on my own experiences in various settings and took a moment to ponder just who would go the extra mile to learn about a woman who has impacted so many … who is indeed gone from this physical space, but never forgotten.

My 2nd thought surrounded the transitions that have been made this year. All within the span of 6 months, Dr. Angelou is the 4th woman to no longer call this place home who has had a profound impact on my life (the other 3 much more directly). I thought and continue to think, not only about the legacies of these women, but what their involvement in my life calls me to do … to become. How can I not teach? Write? Nurture? Learn? Share? Inspire? Support? How can I commit without ceasing to never settling for just an ordinary life, but earnestly attempting to use all of my gifts and talents in ways that pour back into the communities in my life. For me these women haven’t just left loving memories and more than a few broken hearts, they’ve left calls to duty to replenish our communities with all that we’ve received from them – and then some.

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