I have to admit that it was only recently that I declared myself a poet. In fact, it was in 2012, and then, only when I realized that my poems seemed to attract more positive notice than did my short stories, that I began to redefine my identity. Yet, I was aware of the work of Dr. Maya Angelou for a long time before that. I’d known about her since childhood when I saw the movie version of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
I cannot say that I wanted to be blessed with the same talent that she had as a writer and poet from that time, but as my consciousness emerged, even from before my divergence on my path in 2012, I recognized that she was a mentor for me. She was someone against whom I could benchmark my efforts in life, and not only my efforts as a writer. Even from that early time, I recognized Dr. Angelou’s spirit as a survivor and as a warrior queen. It was the same spirit that I have always recognized in the women in my family.
So, while this isn’t meant to be some cheezy roll call, I have to salute my personal heroes, since the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou yesterday tells me that I don’t have forever to do so. So to Dr. Maya Angelou, to Martin Luther King Jr., to Marcus Garvey, to my grandparents, to my beloved parents, to my sister Dianne and to my Aunt Daisy, to my Aunt Olga and to the other women in my family, to President Barack Obama, to Oprah Winfrey, to Mahatma Gandhi, to Sir David Attenbourough, to my colleagues Marina R. and to Arlene B., to Garth L. and to Sharon P, to my classmate Cerease, to Jesus Christ and to everyone else who has ever held up a light to point me along a better path, I say thank you for being one of my mentors and for being such a hero(ine) because of your kindness and support and ability to inspire me to be a better, braver person.