Maya Angelou


I don’t know why the passing of Maya Angelou has given me a guilty melancholy feeling towards the fact that I have not read any of her books. Especially, the book “Why the Caged Bird Sings” that’s a Black classic. Maya is iconic. So along the way I have bought Black classics at the half price book store with plans to read them one day. I have read some of her poems. But, I don’t understand the guilt over not reading Maya Angelou’s classic book since hearing of her passing.

Her story is no different than some Black women. Maya was bounced back and forth from mother to grandparents during her childhood. I know quite a few women, including myself, who are half raised by mom and half raised by grandparents. And then there’s the rape that sets Maya apart from the rest of us or most of us. After being raped at 8 years old by her mom’s boyfriend she didn’t speak for almost 5 years. There are some Black women today that have lived through a childhood tainted with molestation and rape and can identify with Maya while others can only sympathize.

The years since “Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Maya has produced more autobiography and memoirs even at the age of 85 years old she penned yet another autobiography titled “Mom & Me & Mom.” I would love to read this one. I wonder what her relationship was like with her mother especially after the rape.

I admire Maya and I‘m sure many have been inspired by her. There is no doubt that her legacy will live on.

Today May 20th in Black History

*Today in Black History – May 20      *

1746 – Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture is born into
slavery in Haiti.  He will lead the revolution in his
country against French and English forces to free the
slaves.  Although he will nominally rule in the name of
France, he will in actuality become political and
military dictator of the country.  His success in freeing
the slaves in Haiti caused his name to become the biggest
influence in the slave cabins of the Americas.  His name
will be whispered in Brazil, in the Caribbean, and the
United States. He will join the ancestors on April 7, 1803.

1868 – The Republican National Convention, meeting in Chicago,
nominates U.S. Grant for the presidency.  The convention
marks the national debut of African American politicians.
P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana and James J. Harris were
delegates to the convention.  Harris will be named to the
committee which informed Grant of his nomination. African
Americans also serve for the first time as presidential
electors.  Robert Meacham will be a presidential elector
in Florida. The South Carolina electoral ticket will
include three African American Republican leaders, B.F.
Randolph, Stephen A. Swails, and Alonzo J. Ransier.

1951 – The New York branch of the NAACP honors Josephine Baker for
her work to combat racism.  Baker, the American chanteuse
who was acclaimed in Europe, had led a personal crusade to
force integration of clubs where she appeared in Miami and
Las Vegas. She also campaigned against segregated railroad
facilities in Chicago and buses in Oakland.

1961 – A mob attacks freedom riders in Montgomery, Alabama.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy dispatches four hundred
U.S. marshals to Montgomery to keep order in the freedom
rider controversy.

1964 – Buster Mathis defeats Joe Frazier to qualify for the U.S.
Olympic team.

1971 – A Pentagon report states that African Americans constituted
11 per cent of U.S. soldiers in Southeast Asia.  The
report also states that 12.5 per cent of all soldiers
killed in Vietnam since 1961 were African American.

1985 – Larry Holmes retains the heavyweight boxing title of the
International Boxing Federation in Reno, Nevada — by
defeating Carl Wilson in 15 rounds. The fight marks the
first heavyweight title fight in Reno since Jack Johnson
and Jim Jeffries fought there in 1910.

2003 – Howard Sims, tap dancer, joins the ancestors at age 86.  He
was known as “Sandman” and taught Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen
and others.

Today May 6th in Black History

*Today in Black History – May 6 *







1787 – Prince Hall forms African Lodge 459, the first African
American Masonic Lodge in the United States.










1794 – Haiti, under Toussaint L’Ouverture, revolts against France.













1812 – Martin R. Delany is born free in Charlestown, Virginia. He
will become the first African American field officer to
serve in the Civil War. He will also be a noted physician,
author, explorer, and a newspaper editor.




1930 – Noted actor Charles Gilpin joins the ancestors. The founder
and manager of the Lafayette Theatre Company, one of the
earliest African American stock companies in New York,
Gilpin achieved fame for his performance as Brutus Jones
in Eugene O’Neill’s play “The Emperor Jones.” In 1921, he
won the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in recognition of his
theatrical career.






Willie_Mays_cropped1931 – Willie Mays is born in Westfield, Alabama. He will become a
professional baseball player at the age of 16, for the
Birmingham Black Barons. After graduating from high school,
he will be signed by the New York Giants. His 7095 putouts
will be the all-time record for an outfielder. His career
batting average will be .302. For eight consecutive years,
he will drive in more than 100 runs a year, and his 660 home
runs will put him in third place for the all-time home run
record. He will win the Gold Glove Award 12 times. He will
be voted Most Valuable Player in the National League in
both 1954 and 1965. He will be inducted into the Baseball
Hall of Fame in 1979.





1960 – The Civil Rights Act of 1960 is signed by President
Eisenhower. The act acknowledges the federal government’s
responsibility in matters involving civil rights and
reverses its customary “hands-off” policy.




1967 – Four hundred students seize the administration building at
Cheyney State College.