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May 30, 2014


Maya is gone. At 86, her incredible heart just gave out. I “met” her 45 years ago when I read the first of her six autobiographies: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. As a desperately lonely college student struggling with career choices, that book was a balm to my soul. Like thousands of others, I have followed her career ever since, rejoicing in her triumphs and grieving for her losses. I watched her as Kunta Kinte’s Grandmother in “Roots” and a wonderful television interview with Bill Moyers when she went back to her own roots in Stamps, Arkansas. As they sat on the front porch together, she spoke of the legend they were creating sitting there, in full view of the community. I listened to her wonderful piece “On the Pulse of Morning”, created for Clinton’s inaugural, over and over again. I read the other five autobiographical works, marking spots, laughing, crying, re-reading, remembering.

As thousands – known and unknown – remember her and try to put into words the essence of this amazing woman, the words that sing to me are “She had a FIERCE GRACE.”  Yes! That’s it! That’s who she was. Thank you, Maya… for your ferocity… and your amazing grace.

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