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June 1, 2016

Maya Angelou: Remembering a Life of Brilliance


There are no words to describe the recent news of Maya Angelou’s passing.

I never met her. We never had coffee together. Still, I feel a tremendous loss.

The world lost a person today that reminded us of our humanity.

A poet. A writer. A civil rights activist. Maya Angelou represented the resilience of the human spirit.

I vividly recall reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my high school freshman literature class. We had such different lives. I was a young, white, middle-class male suburbanite (i.e. a rather privileged life), yet I never felt so connected to a writer before. She spoke of the human condition and it opened my eyes. It was an awakening. She showed me we should ALL feel the effects of injustice.

Maya Angelou continued to personally affect me throughout the years in rather surprising ways.

In my early twenties, I received the most unexpected phone call on a summer afternoon. It was Maya Angelou  - well, a pre-recorded call – with her advocating for marriage equality in New York. I never felt so touched before in my life. This human rights issue affected my life directly and someone who I idolized cared about MY life and how the world treated me. That is a true, selfless hero.

Since that day, I made a promise to work for equality – including literacy awareness – in any way I can.

We all grieve today, but we must also celebrate. We must mandate that every future generation knows the compassion, the intelligence and the spirit of Maya Angelou.

Please share your thoughts, favorite quotes and other ways Maya Angelou affected your life in the comments section below.


I believe this post should end with a quote by none other than Maya Angelou.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”



About the Author: Michael Barrett is a Senior Publicist at Scholastic. He works on our Summer Reading Challenge and “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life” campaigns, with Scholastic Reading Club and Book Fairs, and on other corporate communication initiatives. 

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One Response

  1. angelamiata

    Farewell to a PHENOMENAL Woman :)

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