Maya Angelou: A Life Ends, Her Lessons Live On
Dr. Maya Angelou’s life is over. But her lessons most certainly live on.
Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014 in her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. at the age of 86. Undoubtedly, her words and actions will continue to stir our souls, energize our bodies, liberate our minds, and heal our hearts.
Today marks the passing of the legendary literary voice. Dr. Angelou was a well-known author of 30 books, including her famous memoir “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” She was also a poet, novelist, educator, dramatist, actress, historian, filmmaker, first African-American director, first African-American female cable car conductor, civil rights activist, and more. Angelou reached a global audience through tales of her childhood and early adulthood during segregation, and was among the first autobiographies to reach a general readership by a 20th-century black woman.
Angelou believed that ‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it,” and she did just that. She created opportunities for herself and never stopped learning. From touring Europe as part of an opera to joining the Harlem Writers Guild, she was just as much of a thinker as she was a doer. And although she never went to college, she received more than 30 honorary doctoral degrees, and dozens of remarkable awards, including, the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, presented by Barack Obama in 2011, the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, and the Lincoln Medal in 2008.
For all of the accolades, perhaps Dr. Angelou’s most admirable trait was that she lived a life of learning that serves as a remarkable example for children around the world. And for all the lessons we can learn from her life, perhaps the core life lesson is this: no matter the circumstance, beauty, strength, and brilliance can be found in every once of us.
Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.