And Still I Rise–A Tribute to Maya Angelou

“People will forget what you do, and

people will forget what you say, but

people won’t forget

how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, the literary icon who died this week, gives her high school teacher Bertha Flowers credit for helping her to speak again after five years of silence and for igniting her interest in literature. Angelou once stated that the period of silence actually allowed her to absorb her surroundings more intensely. She had been mute after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend.

The literary master was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement and worked directly with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She authored 30 books, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) is the first of six autobiographies.

Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008. President Obama honored her in February of 2011 with a Medal of Freedom — the highest honor a MAngelou quotecivilian can receive and a “thank you for inspiring people of the world to be more compassionate, loving, and to act from their best selves,” according to a Final Tribute aired by ABC.

Maya Angelou was a poet, actress, activist and educator, and she believed that “Love is what can heal all.” Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she lived for years in Harlem, Ghana, and influenced lives all over the world–including Oprah Winfrey’s–who has long considered Angelou her mentor.

She was also a cook and loved to bring people together around a pot roast,  a “Sunday Dinner” which she said is “one of the most intimate ways to be together.” She  loved country music, she told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America.

Maya Angelou was the second poet in U.S. history Continue reading “And Still I Rise–A Tribute to Maya Angelou”

Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind

 “The mother of a child with disabilities is a powerful person. She doesn’t know what she is until it’s what she becomes.”

Sharon Draper, author of Out of My Mind

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Sharon Draper

Sharon Draper’s latest book for middle graders, Out of My Mind, has remained on the New York Times Best Sellers List for more than a year because it’s one of those books that forces us to feel our world in new ways. Our heroine, Medody, is a brilliant 11 years old who’s trapped in a body that won’t allow her to talk or move independently.

“Melody represents all of us and any child who has no voice–who is different and isn’t heard,” says the author. Melody is “the voice for the voiceless.”

Born with Cerebral Palsy, her world opens when she gets a computer with a voice program that allows her to speak and share her wit with the world–for the first time.

Although Dr. Hughly advised her mother to consider sending her “away”, Melody’s caring parents make sure she enrolled in the local elementary school. However, she was always kept in “special” classes–as if she wasn’t the smartest kid in school–like she is!

With the help of ever-caring mom who “becomes more powerful than she ever knew she could be,” according to the author, Melody has been able to learn lots. Another miracle-maker of the story is neighbor and retired teacher, Violet.

“Violet Vallencia is a big hero, the example of Tough Love that pushes Melody to the max–and helps her to become what she can,” says Sharon Draper–who doesn’t Continue reading “Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind”