In 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother's boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco's first black streetcar conductor.
Midrash, or the rabbinical interpretation of Old Testament writings, repeats certain phrases and scenes as a way to help the devout learn sacred texts. The technique may help explain why Maya Angelou seems to be repeating herself throughout her new memoir, Mom & Me & Mom.
This quote, I'm sure, is familiar to all of you. If not, then I hope you will find some meaning in this piece. It was spoken graciously and passionately by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, in Washington, DC. This week, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. Several months ago, Sean and I received an award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Service Award, which deeply humbled us. We have received numerous awards in the last few years, yet this one stood apart from the others. It was presented by The Rainbow Push Coalition. We were awed to be the recipients of a recognition that we knew was not given to us without great consideration. Sean and I joked, "Do you think they know we are white?" This Freedom Award represented all that Dr. King embodied to us. It allowed us to believe that maybe, just maybe, that we are making progress. It was not just another piece of hardware that we would line up on the shelf in the study. It seemed to represent a hopeful future.
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