Famous folks

Maya Angelou: Rise in Power After Living in Purpose

Maya Angelou Pic

Maya Angelou is gone and I was not ready. I wasn’t ready because I just figured Mother Maya would stay to give us more words. I figured she’d stay forever and just continue to be magic. I’m so selfish because she’s given more than enough.

I don’t think I have the right words to speak about Marguerite Johnson the Beloved. I don’t know if there is a right way to memorialize someone whose words are like life’s manual. What do you say about the woman who touched nations? What can articulate the impact of her being? I don’t even have the vocabulary for it.

Maya Angelou didn’t write poetry. She WAS poetry. Her whole being was in beautiful prose.

Maya is (not was) a Queen, especially to us Black girls. In her struggles you saw yours but in her power, you also found yours. In her vulnerability, you ached to let yours show and in her confidence, you fist pumped because yours could look like hers.

She told us revolutionary things, like we are worth love in every way. We can give it, we can receive it, and we can wear it like a coat and not be ashamed by it. That woman sat there and told the world “You will love me, even though you might not want to. You will deal!” And people did!


I can barely memorize 2 phone numbers but I’ve memorized plenty of things Dr. Maya Angelou said. Her words are like music because when you hear them, they speak straight to your heart. Before your brain even registers it, your chest swells. And your soul says “YESSSS! I needed that.”

As a woman, as a Black woman, as a writer, Maya told me I owed it to myself to live life loudly and boldly. It wasn’t just something I should do, it’s something I MUST do.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”

Maya Angelou walked in her purpose. That’s clear. So mourning her is really for our benefit. She did what she needed and wanted to, like Nelson Mandela and the other greats before her. She will never really die because she left her spirit behind in the work she’s done.

Watch the video below (from Maya’s LifeClass on OWN), and get your entire LIFE from Mother Maya’s wisdom.

My favorite quote from here is: “I have to know that the brute, the bigot and the batterer are all children of God, whether they know it or not.”

There’s power in knowing that you lived life well and good. Maya did that, and the caged bird is free.

What great things can be said about Maya Angelou that’ll suffice? None of it will be enough. But we speak her name with the utmost respect. Mother, Poet, Activist, Writer, Giver of Verbal Life, Dream Enabler, Giant, Goddess, Queen, Matron Saint of Get Life Right.

Mother Maya, girl. Listen. You phenomenal portrait of poise. You bombastically brilliant, bright, blazing symbol of bravery and goodness. You epic, life-affirming, life-changing, life-loving, life-living, luminous luminary.

Stay rising, sis. You did so good and we thank you for it. Rise rise rise in power.


Previous post

This Bridal Party's Drunk in Love Routine is a Mess

Next post

A Must Watch Conversation Between Maya Angelou and Dave Chappelle


  1. GirlYouKnow
    May 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Clap. Beautifully written, Luvvie. Rest in power, Dr. Angelou.

    • Wendyful1
      May 29, 2014 at 6:28 am


    • Dawn
      May 29, 2014 at 6:47 am

      Indeed. Wonderfully written, this touched me.

  2. May 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Heaven has gained an Angel. Rest in please Mama Maya. #WomenWhoInspireUs

  3. May 28, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    *Single tear and slow clap*

    • SecretDivva
      May 28, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Thug Tears activate! Form of a BIRD!!!

      #RIP #WeLoveYouMaya #WellDone

      • GetOnMyLevel
        May 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

        I just sat down stood up and slid down a wall…my tears are real…Maya was like a great aunt that always gave great advice that you could not refuse…her truth is all of our truth how did she know who i could be could be so much more…it is an honor to know her i want my children to know her as deeply as she has given me strength thank you awesomely luvviee you made my day …

  4. TheMrs
    May 28, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    You said most everything I couldn’t put into words (per usual). Thank You. She was everything I needed as a young black girl to help me be proud of who I was.

  5. Tiffany R Paige
    May 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    You know a part of me felt the same way that she would live forever. I don’t know why, but I did. I feel that she has more words to pour into me and I’m not ready, but like you said, I’m just being selfish.

    • crlsweetie912
      May 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      No…just being human RIP Dr. Angelou

    • Wendyful1
      May 29, 2014 at 6:31 am

      You’re not alone. I could never fathom her dying. I imagined her living to be obe hundred and sonething and people just sitting on the floor encircled around her listenibg to her speak. I am in a kind of stupor because of her death. It’s genuine shock.

  6. DAKrolak
    May 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Is it right that I’m mad that I can’t tweet:
    “There are no words to speak truth to the power of Maya Angelou. Mother, Poet, Activist, Writer, Giver of Verbal Life, Dream Enabler, Giant, Goddess, Queen, Matron Saint of Get Life Right.” because it is too long? Bless you for writing this!

  7. ButterCup357
    May 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Well DONE Luvvie…..WELL DONE!!

  8. Mona
    May 28, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    This brought forth the tears I’ve been choking back all day, Luvvie. Just perfection.

  9. ReDefining Rebecca
    May 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    My daughter, who is 5yrs old now, will come to know Dr. Maya Angelou words as I know them, truths and love

  10. Dawn
    May 28, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Absolutely beautiful.

  11. May 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I cried so many tears this morning. As if my own Grandmother had passed. It really hurt my soul……..to think that she is just gone. She lived 86 very full years. More living then a body is able I am presuming so God had to take her on…

    • May 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      My roommate looked at me crazy when i started crying. I fell like I have lost family. She was one of many inspirations in my life and her works snapped me out of my “young & Stupid” period in my early teens, the reason I lived for Literature class, and the speaker of the Words of Life that made me realize my own power. She will definitely have a place on my Ancestor Shrine.

    • Max
      May 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Real. It’s like I lost my Gran Gran again. The pain is the same. I’m rejoicing in her wisdom and comforted a tiny bit because of the legacy she left to us all.

  12. Mia H
    May 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    She was strong yet humble, vibrant, intelligent, creative, caring, inspiring, elegant and undeniably authentic. She truly was a phenomenal woman.

  13. May 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Beautifully written and that quote at the end got me there. I feel blessed to have had the honor if meeting and speaking euth her. She left the world a better place. Descanse en paz, querida madre.

  14. Petranilla
    May 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    DAMNED RIGHT I’M BEING SELFISH!!!!! I. AM. NOT. READY!!! DO OVER!! Ok ladies sorry for shouting. I know we all must die but NOT people like HER. DAMMIT!!!

  15. Quitha
    May 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Awesome words Luvvie. Thank you for articulating the feelings of the masses on this day. Rest in Paradise Dr. Angelou.

  16. Ramonda Gilmore
    May 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I holler out when I read of Mother Maya’s transition. I cry with every tribute today. Luvvie I’m in uncontrollable tears at your tribute. Beautiful, simply beautiful. REST WELL SPIRITUAL GRANDMOTHER OF THE UNIVERSE. “AND STILL I RISE”

  17. DeRae
    May 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    What a Phenomenal expression of love! I’m trying to fight back the tears because I’m sitting at my desk…and these people here just won’t understand!

    • May 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      This has been me ALL day. I thought I was good until I looked at her picture, heard her voice in a video and absolutely lost it at my desk.

  18. jcanwisegrrl
    May 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I was just about to do a Twitter post for the account I manage at work when I saw news of Dr Maya’s passing on the TL. I literally froze in shock for a moment. I know nobody lives forever, but I think we can all agree that somewhere deep in our hearts, we hope the truly great people would have been blessed with immortality so that they’d always be around to share their wisdom with us and future generations. It’s kinda selfish indeed, but it’s just that you don’t want to let these people go as you’re wondering, ‘Who will fill in the gaps?’

    Like most people, I’ve never been privileged to share the same air as this great woman, but her words transcended time and space to touch our hearts all over the globe. To me, that is a very real connection and I feel this loss personally. Words have tremendous power. The power of life and death are in the tongue (and the pen, in Dr Angelou’s case.) She spoke so much LIFE during her time. Her brilliant life is a course we should continue studying, because there is yet more to learn.

    May she rest with the angels, having done what her Master sent her to this plane to accomplish. She walked in her purpose and gave every ounce of talent she had.

  19. Londa
    May 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Beautiful: Mother Maya, her words. You, you words.

  20. May 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    At the end of that video, she says “That’s one thing I am learning.” Even at whatever age she was when she said that, she was still learning. No wonder she held so much wisdom! She kept herself open to it. Too many times throughout our lives, we think we know it all, yet the older we get, the more we realize how little we know.

    Dr. Maya Angelou truly IS a Queen. As a writer and a survivor, I always found strength and inspiration in her words.

  21. cynthia
    May 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    accurate, powerful, the beautiful tribute Dr Angelou deserves. thank you!

  22. Brendadc
    May 28, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    “I can barely memorize 2 phone numbers but I’ve memorized plenty of things Dr. Maya Angelou said.” <—- THIS ALL DAY.

  23. May 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    yep. you said it all. and in a way that would make Mother Maya proud.

  24. May 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I cried this morning like I lost a family member. And in a way we did.

    Good one Luvvie!

  25. jojo gypsy-chick
    May 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Dear Mother Maya-
    You are the voice of many generations. You have borne monsterous adversity with grace, humility and gentle strength. You were an activist, a Poet Laureate, an inspirarion, a trail blazer…a mother. You are, and shall remain, a shining example of how life, in adversity and victory, is cumulative. How one is not defined by the pain, the sin or the injustices of the past but rather, by the constant forward movement of lessons learned, wisdom gained and faith restored through and by the works that give it life. And, though you are gone from us-your life and legacy will forever be a beacon…a lantern…an example that every single crack lets in a little light. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting pen to paper…and for leaving such a legacy here with us- to continue inspiring us, reminding us…and carrying us forward.
    Rest in eternal peace, Mother Maya.

  26. Leslie
    May 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Well done, Luvvie. You did Mama Mya good!

  27. […] My tribute post to her – Maya Angelou: Rise in Power After Living in Purpose. […]

  28. May 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Yes Luvvie………YES!!!! Thank you.

  29. Kelly
    May 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Brava to you because YOU DID DAT!!!! I’m proud of you…….your words touched my spirit. Trying to put into words the sadness I felt and why was difficult. Thank you for giving me the words to help me deal! Well done Luvvie!!!

  30. Mel
    May 28, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Beautifully written!!!!

  31. Michelle
    May 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I always read but never commented…until today. Luvvie your words about Queen Mother Mays Angelou really resonated with me. I’ve been in shock about her passing all day and your beautiful tribute allowed me to release the tears and grief that I held inside. Thank you so much!

  32. Michelle
    May 28, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    *Maya (please excuse my typo)

  33. Carla
    May 28, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    I met Dr. Angelou when I was a freshman in college. ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ was required reading for my freshman class as she was scheduled for a lecture. I got to meet her afterwards to get my booked signed and she asked me how I was doing with my classes. I nonchalantly said that I wasn’t doing too well, like it was no big deal. Chile, what I do that for?! Mama Maya morphed into every grandmama/nana/big mama/meemaw/madear that ever graced the face of this earth and LIT INTO ME! Read me within an inch of my whole life, saying that my parents and grandparents did not sacrifice to make sure that I had the opportunity to be in college for me to squander it away and that I better get myself together and do them proud. All I could say was “yes ma’am” and then Mama Maya smiled at me like only a real grandmama could after a reading of that magnatude, signed my book, gave it back to me and said she knew I could do it.

    Two degrees later, I think I’ve done ok. Her death hit me so hard this morning. I sat at my desk really struggling to not cry. It really is like she was everyone’s big mama and now she’s gone and what in the world are we supposed to do now? But she left a magnificent legacy for all of us. It so hurts that she’s gone but I am so grateful that she was here. Fly free, Mama Maya, and thank you.

  34. PoetrysTruth
    May 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    When I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I was around 11yrs old I was shocked and awed that sexual abuse had happened to OTHER brown girls (I thought I was alone). Dr. Angelou’s writing showed me who I was and who I could become. I cried when I read of her passing and prayed she was a peace when her Glory came. I am a writer and poet and this is possible for me ( a girl from the projects) because Dr. Angelou lived. Glory be to her spirit and glory be unto God for blessing all of us with her presence and her words.

  35. Quitha
    May 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    We should request of the Federal Government that either today or her birthday, which was just last month be officially declared Dr. Maya Angelou Day and I hope that President Obama proclaims that she will lie in state so that the nation mourns her just as they would mourn any other iconic American figure, this amazing woman influenced all. She deserves an audacious yet super classy home going.

  36. May 29, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Well Done Luvie! I was introduced to Mother Maya’s work as a bookish 10 year old at the public library. I have no idea of why I was lead away from the Nancy Drew & Beezus & Ramona stories in the children’s section to pick up ” I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” but it changed the very trajectory of my life. There was I turning back once I met Bailey, Mother, Uncle Willie and Grandmother. They became MY people and she became my people! I have stood on the shore in Africa because she described Ghana so beautifully I had to see it for myself. I am who I am because she modeled greatness for me & used words to show me myself. I miss her already.

  37. Yinka
    May 29, 2014 at 12:22 am

    @Luvvie. Beautifully written. Where is the option for

  38. Yinka
    May 29, 2014 at 12:26 am

    My post did not all come through

  39. May 29, 2014 at 6:09 am

    one tear, that won’t drop…..

  40. Tangie
    May 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

    That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

  41. Syrich
    May 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Luvvie, you make me love us. You, me, all of us who fellowship on your site. Laughing and exchanging funnies about the foolishness that is so visually apart of our world today. And now, we gather here to remember and to comfort one another in our loss of such a magnificent transcendant soul. For that Luvvie, I thank you for this beautiful memorial, I know Mother Maya is smiling and very proud of you, her daughter.

    I had the blessing of being in Dr. Angelou’s company and although she never spoke a word, the experience was etheral. I was in Harlem visting my best friend the summer of Abyssinian Baptist Church was celebrating their 200th anniversary. We were on our way to services when I noticed a vision in all white. Low and behold it was Mother of all mothers, the Grand Dame herself, Dr. Maya Angelou. Her escort asked us to respect her space and allow her to pass without any fuss. I being properly raised showed her the utmost respect. As a matter fact I had to fight the urge to bow and kiss the hem of her garment as she passed me. Technically, I know I can’t say that I ever met her, but I can say that I felt her loving aura just being near her. Like she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I will never forget how blessed I felt just being in her presence. RIP, Mother Maya and my condolences to your son.

    P.S. Although, I have read everything she has ever wrote, the fact remain that one of the best books I ever read was written by her son Guy Johnson, Standing at the Scratch Line. It is really a great book for men because it is filled with so much adventure, a true black epic that would make for a great movie.

  42. Lizzy
    May 29, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Concise, beautiful, heartfelt, accurate – I think this is the epitome of the type of woman she was. Not satisfied to be seen as one thing, you may NOT put me in a box or label me! She was all things, at any time she pleased. I see the same in you, Luvvie! May we all be as brave and skilled and WILLING.

  43. Max
    May 29, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    My eyes are sweating. You gave a word Sis. A much needed word.

  44. HolisticHealthVegan
    May 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful write up Luvvie. Maya Angelou is an integral part of so many black women’s lives. She gave us wings when we didn’t even know we could fly.

    I remember first reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at 13 yrs old and even I that young age, I realized that I was reading something very special. I greedily indulged myself in all of her books ever since.

    I was always a child with her nose in a book and my mother realized that Maya’s books held a very special place in my heart. So much so, that one of my mother’s last gifts to me before she passed away was a book by Maya Angelou.

    It was an amazing pleasure when Dr. Angelou came to my place of employment many years ago for a lecture.She told us that if we didn’t like something don’t just complain about it but change it. And if we are unable to change it then protest it…LOUDLY. Also she said that we must never allow our beds to become our cooling boards. That so many of us live lives filled with regret over things we should have done or changed. That we must seize life and dare to live boldly before our beds became our cooling boards. During that talk we were in awe of her wisdom, we laughed with her and we even cried. She ended her talk with a wonderful song. It is a memory that I pray I never forget.

    I came to learn when I lost my mother that grief is the price we must pay for love. I am reminded again of that painful lesson now with the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou. She was a blessing for all of us and she will be forever missed. I think many of us feel so fortunate that such greatness existed in one being and that she was able to make such a positive impact in our lives.

    Rest in Power Maya.

  45. Cherelle
    May 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Just when I thought I had no more tears left to cry, here they come again. That was beautiful Luvvie. Thank you.

  46. May 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Part four where she talked about Tupac.. I cried… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l43cYi3iJI

  47. Jaywan
    May 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”

    This is one of my fave quotes from Maya Angelou it was my email signature at work. I just finished reading Mother: A Cradle To Hold Me and gushing about it to my husband a few days ago. I definitely credit I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey as one of few books that changed my perception on life and helped as I take my own journey.

    I loved her gentle openness and honesty. I’m glad that she decided to live her truth. Her works will always be an encouraging inspiration to me.

  48. Jay
    May 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I miss her. I remember reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings when I was around 12 years old. It broke my heart reading about her sexual abuse and the racism, religious oppression, and sexism that she faced. It frightened me that these things are something that I will face in my life, but it strengthened me to know that I was not alone. I read The Heart of a Woman when I was 17 years old and it remains one of the most powerful novels that I have ever read. I envy the fact that she lived and lived so vividly, BUT her love shows me that I do not have to be envious of her life’s fullness. I can choose now to live fully and live boldly and loudly. Thank you Mother Maya. I love you and I miss you.

  49. Jabria
    June 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

    I heard came across that quote of hers in maybe the ninth grade, and I can’t even count how many times it’s kept me going when all I want to do is give up. Rest is peace, Maya. Heaven has gained an extraordinary angel.

  50. June 1, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Written with beauty, eloquence, and all the words I wanted to say. Hopefully it’s cool that I quoted the last part, because you said it with such power and TRUTH. Yes ma’am, Mother Maya was all things to this little budding writer sista as well. Not only as a writer, but for those struggles you mentioned. I hope that people do not forget that struggle. REALLY hope they remember and celebrate ALL PARTS of who she is.

  51. […] that hadn’t already been said. I’ve been reading and liking tribute posts. xoJane.com, Awesomely Luvvie, Sing a Black Girl’s Song and Ebony.com all featured beautiful pieces that simultaneously […]

  52. […] My tribute post to her – Maya Angelou: Rise in Power After Living in Purpose. […]

  53. June 10, 2014 at 5:59 am

    […] Maya Angelou: Rise in Power After Living in Purpose […]