Ode to Maya Angelou by Michelle Obama
When I think of Maya Angelou I think of the affirming power of her words. The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman” I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever, and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women but she also graced us with an anthem for all women, a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.
And oh, how desperately black girls needed that message. As a young woman I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie—that was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to.
But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head. Her message was very simple: She told us that our worth had nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead she said, “each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”