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Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou: “That Woman There”

It was announced this week that Dr. Maya Angelou along with 14 other nominees will receive the Presidential Award of Freedom and I immediately wondered what words of wisdom or better yet what bonafide older black woman musings would grace the ears of the other nominees from the mouth of Dr. Maya Angelou. You see, Dr. Maya Angelou is the type of seasoned black woman who unabashedly speaks her mind without all the insecurities and second guessing that usually lace the words of women below 35. I can only imagine what she would say to the other nominees. Perhaps, it would sound something like this.

To President Barack Obama:

Perhaps, she would say something akin to what she said in 2008 when she was asked why she supported Hillary Clinton. “President Obama—Yes, I did not vote for you . . . I wanted my girl Hillary . . . I made up my mind 15 years ago that if she ever ran for office I’d be on her wagon. My only difficulty with Senator Obama is that I believe in going out with who I went in with.”

To Former President George Bush, Sr.:

Perhaps, she would say something akin to what she said at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral where Former President Georg W. Bush Jr. was seated. “And those of us who gather here, principalities, presidents, senators, those of us who run great companies, who know something about being parents, who know something about being preachers and teachers — those of us, we owe something from this minute on; so that this gathering is not just another footnote on the pages of history. We owe something. I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say I want to see a better world. I mean to say I want to see some peace somewhere. I mean to say I want to see some honesty, some fair play.”

To Sylvia Mendez:

Perhaps, Dr. Maya Angelou would say to Sylvia, Girl, we both have seen the years come and go. “There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies.”

Perhaps, she would say these things or perhaps not. But, what I know for sure is that she will say something that will make you wonder and say to yourself shaking your head, “that woman there.” You see, “that woman there” connotes an older woman who knows where she has been and where she is now. It represents an older woman who knows the subtle of using polite crass words to incite Sistergirl belly laughs. It encompasses the breath of a seasoned woman who is no longer moved by emotional cons of people or by the ironies of life. They are older women who know (i.e. La Que Sabe, Baba Yaga, and Kali) and their knowings spoken through lips that have kissed many, cursed many, loved many, hated than forgiven many sear the illusions and fairytales of our “unexamined lives.”

“That woman there,” I honor today, Dr. Maya Angelou.


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