As strange as it may sound, I became intrigued with Maya Angelou after her passing in 2014. A few months before her passing, she had scheduled a speaking engagement at my alma mater, only to cancel due to her declining health. I was so looking forward to finally seeing and learning from this remarkable woman whose name was tied to one of my favorite quotes of all time: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” After missing this opportunity to see her in person, I was so excited to receive Letter to My Daughter in my stocking this Christmas because it felt like a second chance to learn how to live my life as she did.
In a series of over twenty essays, Letter to My Daughter gives glimpses of the rather challenging life of Maya Angelou and the variety of lessons she learned as she endured these different experiences. From becoming a mother at the young age of sixteen, to simply learning to navigate the world as a six foot tall black woman who stood out in so many ways, Maya Angelou offers wisdom that shows women of all colors and from all backgrounds how to lead a meaningful life.
Although I loved every moment of this book, the essay that resonated the most with me was the one entitled “Fannie Lou Hamer,” who was a civil rights activist who fought vehemently for the right to vote for African Americans. It is in this essay which Angelou says:
“I believe that there lives a burning desire in the most sequestered private hearts of every American, a desire to belong to a great country. I believe that every citizen wants to stand on the world stage and represents a noble country, where the mighty do not always crush the weak and the dream of a democracy is not the sole possession of the strong.”
As we quickly approach the inauguration of a man who campaigned on hate, xenophobia, and divisiveness, it is very easy to lash out against those who supported him. However, this quote gives me hope. These words remind me that regardless of who you voted for on this past election day, you felt in your heart that you were placing your support behind someone who would make you proud to be an American. Although I will continue to speak out against injustices and vulgarities, as Maya Angelou also encouraged, it is through these words that I can begin to understand the very things that divide us in this country.
Ultimately, Letter to My Daughter is required reading for every mom and daughter out there. I encourage everyone to wrap themselves in the warmth of Maya Angelou’s words in this collection of essays. You won’t be sorry 🙂 As always let me know if the comments below your thoughts and check back on Thursday for my thoughts on Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
4.5 out of 5 stars