Maya Angelou has now passed but her memory lives on through those who knew her and share their stories. Tavis Smiley met Maya in 1986 at the age of 21. For his job, he was asked to deliver a letter to her from the Mayor. That chance encounter led to 28 years of mentoring.
Maya permitted Tavis to ask tough questions and challenged him to think deeper. Somehow she was always right but was gracious in her responses and gave room to let things go.
The only issue she would never back down on was use of the “n” word and profanity. She was able to impart how our choice of words affect how we are seen and the impact it can have on our futures.
Tavis’ journey began with an invitation from one of Maya’s lady friends to join them on a trip to Africa and they provided the resources to make it happen. That trip changed his life.
Maya followed his career and lovingly encouraged him throughout nearly thirty years. When she disagreed or thought something could be done differently, they would have intelligent debate. Sometimes, it was after a period of time went by that he would remember something she said and contemplate how he could grow from it.
She shared stories of other well-known people who had crossed her path. She never judged others but was able to make them better people just by speaking to them. She also listened before she spoke. When she did speak, she had their attention.
I was so inspired by the stories Tavis shared, I wish I could be like her. Yet, she would tell me to just be the best “me” I could be. She genuinely built people up no matter the paths they chose.
Although Maya was a hero to African citizens and African-Americans, her wisdom is such that we can each aspire to reflect. There are probably treasures like her in every cultural group. I would like to see more of this kind of mentoring cross all boundaries. Kindness and wisdom unite race, religion, education or financial stations.
The wise person will grow from their mistakes, make correction, let others see a difference in them and develop others to be the best they can be. I am not known to the world and have never traveled abroad. I hope I made a difference to someone and when I get to Heaven get to meet people I didn’t even know who share stories of how we intertwined.
This was a good read. I finished it just in time for sweet dreams. Have a blessed night.