Maya Angelou: The Passing of a Phenomenal Woman

Written by: Lizzy Albers

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Eighteen years ago, sitting in my freshman english class I was exposed for the first time to one of the greatest poets, writers and women of all time. That day, in Mr. Windnagle’s class, became a day for me I wouldn’t forget. I read the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. Here’s a taste of what hit me that day as a young impressionable teen.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size 
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips, 
The stride of my step, 
The curl of my lips. 
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, 
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please, 
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees. 
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees. 
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes, 
And the flash of my teeth, 
The swing in my waist, 
And the joy in my feet. 
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me. (read more)

That poem hung on the bulletin board next to my bed until I moved out of my parents house for good, but the words stay with me still today. I became a huge fan and admirer of Maya Angelou, and not just because she was a famous black woman who had made a name for herself, but because she was a woman who stood for more than I could ever dream. She was an author.

Years later I was married and became pregnant with my first child. My husband and I agreed if it was a girl she would be named Maya. Generous, love, princess, honorable matriarch, warrior; the phenomenal meanings of the name go on and on. I remember the day I had my precious love warrior a nurse in the hospital, who I had gone to high school with and who happened to be black, asked what her  name was. I told her it was Maya. She looked at me in surprise and said “Wow, I’ve never known a blonde haired girl named Maya”. Another co-worker commented saying “Maya is too ethnic of a name for a white girl from South Toledo”. To us, the name, the matriarch, the influencer, the woman was more than a color.

Today is a sad day for many across the country as Maya Angelou passed away. Although I am saddened that I will no longer be able to point out to Maya that the woman on TV or being interviewed is who she was named after; Maya Angelou’s life and meaning will live strong in the books of her poems that are read to our little eight-year-old warrior in hopes that she will become a phenomenally, phenomenal woman.

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jeremybaumhower

jeremybaumhower

Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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