This week many people are writing tributes to Maya Angelou, who died this week at the age of 86. Most of us think of Angelou as a brilliant poet, author, actress and teacher. My favourite Angelou poem celebrates resilience, And Still I Rise. I especially love her recitation of this poem in the clip below.
For me, though, Angelou will remain a leader of minds. In addressing racism and the black experience in the US head on, she reached out to millions of African Americans by sharing their experience, making it concrete and naming it. For me, not only did she make me more empathetic to the experience of millions of Americans, she encouraged me to believe in my own power, to believe in my own creativity. She encouraged me to believe that I could lead.
For me, the lesson of Maya Angelou’s life is that you don’t have to be a politician or a CEO to be a leader. If you have a higher purpose, and if it resonates with others, you are a leader, whether you want to be or not.