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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: A Phenomenal Being



How Dr. Maya Angelou’s words made their way into my world.

I’ve seen her several times on television, heard her recite lines of her poetry, read about her activism, and I know of most of her accomplishments. I am very familiar with her book, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, but I've never read it and the reason why is not important. What is important to me is how Dr. Angelou shared her story of going after her dream, her dream of being a San Francisco streetcar conductor.
  
Dr. Angelou shared her story with Oprah Winfrey on an episode of Super Soul Sunday. “I loved the uniforms, so I said, ‘That’s a job I want,’” she shared with Oprah. Although the staff didn’t want to give the 16 year old Black American female dreamer an application, Dr. Angelou kept on pursuing that ideal job. Thanks to her mother, Dr. Angelou kept going back until she got that application, an interview, and the job. Dr. Angelou became San Francisco’s first Black streetcar conductor.
 
Her streetcar story justified the notion of never giving up on what you want out of life. You have to go after it and don’t let anyone tell you because you’re a minority that you can’t achieve a particular goal.

I’ve always known of the lesson of never giving up, I teach it to my own children, but every once in a while life gets the best of me and I believe that I can’t attain those dreams.
Hearing Dr. Angelou’s streetcar conductor story that day was a wakeup call for me. 

Another Dr. Angelou ah-ha moment is her poem, Phenomenal Woman. When I first heard the poem I was in elementary school. I couldn’t relate because as a little girl I was never told I was phenomenal. Ha! Little did I know I had to earn that title and that it was going to take a few years.

Now that I am creeping into to my 40s I totally get it. I finally understand the stride in my step, the sun of my smile, the click of my heels and why I no longer bow my head. It’s because I finally earned the stripes of a Phenomenal Woman. Thank you Dr. Maya Angelou. Your presence will be missed and your words and stories will carry on. I promise.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size  

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,  

The stride of my step,  

The curl of my lips.  

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,  

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,  

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.  

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.  

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,  

And the flash of my teeth,  

The swing in my waist,  

And the joy in my feet.  

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

 Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered  

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,  

They say they still can’t see.  

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,  

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.  

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.  

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,  

The bend of my hair,  

the palm of my hand,  

The need for my care.  

’Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.
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How has Dr. Maya Angelou's words made it into your world? Share your comments below.
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