Born Marguerite Johnson in 1928 in the American South, I would venture that Maya is best known for her poem "Still I rise" and her series of seven (!) autobiographies. She authored 30 books, was the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees, served on two Presidential Committees, recited her poem at President Clinton's inauguration and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian award in the United States - by Barack Obama.
Whilst Maya's roster of achievements, awards and prizes is illustrious and lengthy, it is not for that reason that she is such a luminous light in my life.
A few years ago I read the first of her memoirs: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Goodness me, what a heart wrenching start to life. Having gone through some hard times early in my own life (who hasn't?), Maya's writing and approach to life became a beacon.
It was her determination to overcome difficulties and her stubbornness to "just do right" that inspired and continues to inspire me to keep on doing what I'm doing with LUXTRA. As Maya said in an interview, "courage is the most important of all the virtues." The following quote however is far and away my favourite Maya mantra:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
Read more: www.mayaangelou.com
By Jessica Kruger, Founder