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One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential…

It’s hard to know where to start with this blog without becoming too emotional!

“One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest”

This is a famous quote from someone who I consider a role model and who has inspired me, the late Maya Angelou.

When I heard that Maya Angelou had passed away, a sudden gush of sadness took over; I couldn’t believe it. I felt as though I had lost a family member despite not knowing Ms Angelou personally.

My love for black literature has always played a big part in my love of reading. In saying that, I am a real critic when it comes to writing, so any black literature will not do!

I admire Maya Angelou’s style of writing, the content and the passion that comes through in everything that she writes. The first book I read by Maya Angelou (aged 17, for my A-level Literature studies) was part of her autobiography ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’.  

This novel truly led to my admiration of her and I felt inspired by this young woman who seemed to have overcome so many obstacles in her life. If she could overcome such traumas then why couldn’t others? The novel made me content with what I had; determined to do the best that I could; and to achieve the very best in life.

The realism and personal voice that resonates through her autobiography can only make you feel a sense of empathy and compassion for her journey in 1930s Southern America. The imagery she creates through her words brings her story alive and you can almost picture being with her on her journey. She says in the quote above that ‘one isn’t necessarily born with courage’ but she was one of the most courageous women I have read about in Black American History.

Whilst her death is sad news, I hope at the same time that young people, especially black children, will continue to read the great literature that Maya Angelou created in the many years with which she blessed us with, that young black women in particular can learn lessons from her books and her poetry – ‘Still I rise’.

On a personal note I learnt a lot from reading her books and poems, lessons that will live with me forever.

Inspiring quotes from the late Maya Angelou:

  • “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude”.

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

  • “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it"  “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated”

  • “All great achievements require time”

I am grateful that I have had the privilege of being exposed to the literature of Ms Angelou, and that, although never meeting her, she has had a great impact on my life.

Sometimes the people, who inspire us, are the people that we never get to meet but they share their journey with us through literature and that alone is a powerful tool.

So who is your inspiration?

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

photo credit: pennstatenews via photopin cc

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