Angelou has passed on, but her legacy lives forever.
If you need to look something up online today, which is a pretty routine task in the digital age, chances are you're heading over to Google. Once on the main search page of Google, you'll see that a sketch of a smiling African-American elder has replaced the familiar rainbow colored Google logo. Adorned with pearls and gold hoop earrings, Maya Angelou's animated counterpart jumps right off the screen. Google Doodle honors prominent figures in history by placing a drawing of them as the theme for their search engine, and today (April 4) happens to be the birthday of the late-great poet.
Maya Angelou would have been 90 years old today. She was an eloquent and articulate poet, who used her voice to weave tales that resonated with African-Americans across the nation. Her most popular work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, influenced an entire genre and helped Angelou become one of the most well-respected people in the world.
Pain may be an artist's greatest tool. Angelou used the pain of her youth to guide her down a path of creativity. At 7 years old, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. After alerting authorities to the sexual abuse, the rapist was locked away... for just a day. After he was released from jail, he was almost immediately murdered. That experience taught Angelou how powerful her voice could be, and she blamed his murder on herself. She refused to speak, remaining mute for five years, scared that her voice had the power to take another life. Soon, she realized her voice could also have the opposite effect, and her words gave life to disenfranchised Americans across the nation.
Rest in peace Queen, and Happy Birthday.