Blog

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Maya Angelou

By April 4, 2018 No Comments
dr maya angelou receives presidential medal of freedom 2010 from president obama

Unfortunately, Dr. Maya Angelou passed away in 2014. She was a poet, singer, dancer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She was brutally honest with her stories about her “less than perfect life” in her autobiographies hoping that readers would learn that it is never too late to have confidence in yourself, have confidence to do the right thing, or have confidence to do good in the world.

She published over a dozen books including autobiographies, essays, poetry, plays, and movie scripts. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Here are just a few examples:

  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010 (YouTube)
  • Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie
  • Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 Broadway play Look Away
  • Three Grammys for her spoken word albums
  • Coretta Scott King Award in 1971
  • Ladies’ Home Journal “Top 100 Most Influential Women” in 1983
  • Mother Teresa Award in 2006

Dr. Angelou’s daughter wrote a touching note on the website. Here is the first paragraph:

As we spend what would have been my mother’s ninetieth birthday, I think of her melodious tones speaking about the need for tolerance, understanding, forgiveness and love. My mother’s perspective was that human beings being social animals are strongest when they are unified. She saw hatred and greed, not only as divisive, but as the forces of evil. She recognized that unlike positive virtues, neither greed nor hatred has to be taught; they come naturally and have to be untaught in order to free their possessor of their burdensome weight and baggage. She saw one of our greatest challenges was learning to love ourselves, then having the courage and the wisdom to love others. She often said, “We don’t know how or why love occurs. Truthfully, we don’t know that even gravity isn’t a kind of love.” She felt that love was one of the most important emotions and was an instrumental key to unlocking the inner doors of our ignorance and fear.

FURTHER READING

google-created quote in honor of Dr. Maya Angelou's 90th Birthday

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

– From “Still I Rise,” Dr. Maya Angelou

google-created quote in honor of Dr. Maya Angelou's 90th Birthday

I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.

– Dr. Maya Angelou

google-created quote in honor of Dr. Maya Angelou's 90th Birthday

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

– From “Still I Rise,” Dr. Maya Angelou

google-created doodle in honor of Dr. Maya Angelou's 90th Birthday

This is my all-time favorite quote:

People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Dr. Maya Angelou

FURTHER READING

Photography Source:  Header from screengrab of White House Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony video; Other images from Google

Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky is the CEO of The Chief Storyteller®. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better workplace outcomes and improved performance with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communication. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, trainer, consultant, and executive communication coach.