By Ann Laurie Pierre
When I think about an influential Black leader, I think about Maya Angelou.
She was a civil rights activist and a well-known poet. She was awarded the highest civilian honor in the US by President Barack Obama. Her story is so intriguing and so inspirational, I sometimes wonder how she did it. Maya Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of eight. When she
finally brought it into the light, the man got killed right in front of her eyes and at that moment she acknowledged the power of her tongue, that can curse or bless. That frightened her so much that she decided to not speak for the next five years of her life. I find it interesting that after those years, she had plenty to say to the public through poetry, music, and her activism. Many people can resonate with her story. Countless people are living in darkness because they haven’t brought their traumatic experience into the light because of fear, the same fear Angelou felt. I wonder what her perspective of the world was like having been silenced for almost her whole childhood, watching and observing the world and her surroundings circulate. People can be consumed in their daily lives, forgetting about their surroundings and the beauty and the flaws of the world, and sometimes all we really need to do is be silent and observe, just like Ms. Angelou. Her voice shook the world leaving a powerful mark on them, including myself.