For the letter M, I wanted to pay tribute to two of my inspirational people. They have taught me so much, and I continue to learn from their words even though they have passed on. They are Maya Angelou and Malcolm X.
Birth: April 4, 1928
Death: May 28, 2014 (86 years)
She was born Margarite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her brother gave her the nickname “Maya”. Angelou came from the marriage to Tosh Angelos. After their marriage ended, she changed her birth name to the professional name of “Maya Angelou”. In my opinion, Maya’s name has power in it. What do you think?
Maya Angelou and her spirit are why she is one of my favorite authors and people that have ever inhabited this sometimes very cruel Earth. The quote above is full of inspiration, and she had much suffering in her life. The first story I ever read from Ms. Angelou was in a college composition class. It was actually an essay in our composition book. It was an excerpt of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969), and I remember thinking that it was sad and traumatic for such a young girl to endure a great deal of suffering.
The trauma fed the flame inside of her and made her one of the most renowned writers of all time, and it made her a person that little girls could look up to for her survival from such terrible things. She was one of the greatest people of all time, at least in my book she is.
Birth: May 19, 1925
Death: February 21, 1965 (39 years) 😥
Malcolm X had a few names, the one he was born with and then the ones he chose and earned. Malcolm Little was the name he was born with. Malcolm X is the name he acquired while serving a 10-year sentence in prison, and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz was the name he earned after completing the Hajj to Mecca in his religious walk through being a Muslim. The latter is one of the most honorific titles that Muslims can obtain and earn for themselves. He found his walk with Islam through Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI) after many years of being in the foster care system and serving time for larceny and B & E (breaking and entering).
The quote above is one of the most intelligent collections of words that have ever been spoken. He made it clear who he was, what he believed, and how he wanted the world to be. He was not violent in his activism, but still, he was assassinated for being one man fighting for change…fighting oppression…fighting small-minded thinking.
Many have come and gone on the scene of fighting systemic racism and oppression, but these two wonderful people are the main ones that inspire me to be better, do better, and use my voice better. Thank you, Maya Angelou and Malcolm X, for using your voices and your words to inspire people like me. You are landmarks in my life, and I look for your voice when I am finding mine to give to others. Rest in Paradise Queen and King!