Maya Angelou sadly passed away in 2014, but her spirit will never die as long as young women continue to find strength and inspiration in her words.
The ground-breaking poet would have been 89 on Tuesday – and, to mark the occasion, this Brooklyn based The Black Girl project performed her 1986 poem The Black Family Pledge. The piece was written as an impassioned plea for unity in the black community during the turbulent 1980s.
Those performing in the video wouldn’t have been born when Angelou penned the words but their power has clearly transcended the generational divide.
Close friend Oprah Winfrey also marked the writer and activist’s birthday with a moving Instagram post. Winfrey, who has previously spoken about seeing Angelou as a mother figure and mentor, shared an old picture with the pair with the caption: “One of my favourite memories of us.
“She would have been 89 today. #andstillirise #mayangelou”.
Born as Marguerite Ann Johnson, in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou was perhaps best known for her series of autobiographies, of which she wrote seven, including I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
The book details her early childhood in the segregated Deep South and her experiences of racism and being sexually abused by her mother’s partner.
Angelou sadly shared her birthday with the assassination of Martin Luther King and, for years afterwards, did not celebrate it out of respect. However, she is reported to have always sent his widow, Coretta Scott King, flowers on the day.
Next year will mark 50 years since the assassination, on what would have been Angelou’s 90th birthday.