Today marks the passing of Maya Angelou, whose passionate and timeless voice for empathy, passion and humanity touched millions. Throughout her life, Dr. Angelou eloquently presented a powerful and unique expression of what we can become and what we must leave behind.
I had the pleasure and honor of calling Dr. Angelou a longtime friend. While our paths crossed many times, our trip to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 was especially important to me. The event marked a transition for South Africa that had been proven possible in the United States just decades before, in part due to Dr. Angelou’s powerful words. As Madiba spoke, he recited Dr. Angelou’s poem, "Still I Rise."
One verse in particular stays with me to this day:
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
These indelible words define a woman of extraordinary power and courage. She will be sorely missed and never forgotten.