Atlantans reflect on celebrated poet
April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014
Admirers in Atlanta mourned the death of Maya Angelou, one of America’s great literary giants. Angelou died May 28 at her home in Winston-Salem, NC. She was 86.
The accomplished poet and author was honored by President Barack Obama in 2011 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, the country’s highest civilian honor.
This week, she was championed by local leaders as a champion for Mankind.
“Maya Angelou is hailed as one of the most influential voices in modern literature, film and stage. She will be remembered not only for her wit and wisdom, but also her compassion and grace,” said Dr. Jabari Simama, president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. “We are all living in a better world because she chose to share her wisdom and to maker herself accessible to us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends in their time of grief.”
In a prepared statement, the King Center said:
“Our nation and world have lost one of the great Renaissance women of this, or any age, Maya Angelou. Our hearts go out to her son, Guy Johnson, and to all of her family and friends. A prodigious writer, artist and thinker, Maya Angelou was also a woman of matchless compassion and an eloquent humanitarian activist and champion of the poor and oppressed of all nations. She supported Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and served the Civil Rights Movement as a fund-raiser and SCLC organizer. She was also a very close and trusted friend, to our Founder, Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The King Center was proud to present our Salute to Greatness Award to her in 1998 in recognition of her humanitarian work and contributions to society. Maya Angelou leaves a great and memorable blessing in the hearts of the millions whom she touched with her artistry; and, she leaves behind a luminous vision of hope that will inspire millions more for generations to come.”
Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. Her real name was Marguerite Annie Johnson, according to Wikipedia. Several news sources said Angelou started writing after she was raped at age 7 by her mother’s boyfriend. The perpetrator was beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him which caused Angelou to stop speaking for six years.
Literary fans such as Juliette Hill of Decatur said they will miss Angelou greatly.
“She showed the world that black women were more than just people here to make babies. Her poems spoke to the tenacity, creativity and boldness in a black woman,” said Juliette Hill of Decatur. “Because of her, I was able to write my own book of poetry, ‘Golden Moments.’ Her work inspired me at 75 years old, to keep on pushing and working on my writing even after the death of my husband.”
Mae Jones of Stone Mountain, said Angelou’s work is timeless and more people need to learn more about Maya Angelou the woman, not just the poet.
“She had so many great works besides “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “Phenomenal Woman”. Maya Angelou came from lower than humbling beginnings and showed the world that God can use anybody to become a powerful and moving woman for all of us to enjoy,” said Jones. “Maya Angelou spoke five to six different languages and was truly a phenomenal woman. I used to listen to her tapes everyday on the way to work. I considered her like a mother with a great bit of inspiration and wisdom for all of us.”