A woman who had a personal influence on me... what can I even say about this force of an individual. I remember reading her books like, 'All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes' and 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing's' and being enamored by her prose and perspective. She wrote about power and struggle, two things which she seemed to navigate with ultimate grace, in a way that felt like a soft bluesy jazz song. Her experience as a single mother raising a Black son in America, her struggle and sacrifice being a civil justice activist in Harlem, being an artist and a powerful woman. I was young when I started reading her work, early 20's, and she changed me and my mindset. She spoke, you listen... I certainly did. Her efforts are echoed in the changes we see today and those we are still working towards.
Today, when the news broke that she has the honor of being the first Black woman to ever appear on a coin. Her striking likeness laid over a silhouette of a bird honoring one of her most famous poem and autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
I love her. Her power and strength remind me of what we can all achieve. Her willingness to remain faithful to her artistry inspires me. She fought the external and internal battles and won. She is a warrior, I claim her as ours, a WES Warrior. Rest in Peace.