Maya Angelou punctuates my memories of the 1990s.  She delivered an address to my incoming class at Duke, imploring us to recognize that our lives had already been paid for and challenging us to live in a manner that would have a positive impact on the lives of others.  This theme recurred in the poem that she delivered at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, “On the Pulse of Morning.”

After her death this week, NPR broadcast a recording of Angelou reading her poem “Still I Rise.”  As with so many of her writings, she shows her reader how to meet adversity with hope.  But it’s her commentary on rising above what’s written in history that speaks to me as an archivist — speaks to the importance of preserving voices so that, even when they are not immediately recognized, their gifts and dreams and hopes may some day rise.

If you’ve somehow overlooked this remarkable author, her official web site includes a biography, a useful annotated list of her books, a list of the films with which she was involved, and other media.  The New York Times posted an article that provides a thorough overview of her early life.  NPR also ran a full story this week.

In 2010 the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system, bought the papers of Maya Angelou.  (I cannot discover a finding aid online, so I assume this collection has not yet been processed.)  The New York Times article previously mentioned includes a short embedded video that interviews the director of the Schomburg.

I leave you with Angelou’s final tweet: “Listen to yourself, and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.”

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