Angelou's legacy: 'uplifting courage'

Times Herald (Port Huron, MI), February 14, 2009

Maya Angelou may be a writer, may be black and may be a woman, but people such as Jackie Wilson say Angelou transcends each of those distinctions.

"She is very strong in saying you need to stand up for yourself," Wilson, a writer and bookstore owner, said. "Uplifting courage, that is her legacy.

"She has the ability (with her writing) to blur the lines, to say this has nothing to do with race and sex and color, but this is just who you are."

Angelou is a writer of prose and poetry, a playwright and actor, a civil-rights activist and black woman.

She is known best for her autobiographies and poetry, for which she has won numerous awards.

"She's certainly a person who's had a tremendous impact on the literary world," said Jim Warwick, director of the St. Clair County library.

Wilson...said Angelou's writing has stretched through several generations of Americans.

She says Angelou's writing is able to do that because it is as powerful today as it was in the 1950s.

Wilson said the topics are broad and brutal: forgiveness, childhood starvation and Angelou's own childhood rape.

"I think a lot of people connect with that sort of haunting truthfulness," Wilson said. "But she also has this strange ability to be uplifting about it."

Contact Stephen Tait at (810) 989-6275 or at stait@gannett.com.



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