“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But, people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
It’s spring! Season of new beginnings. Whew! It couldn't have come at a better time. With all the pain in the world right now, that’s the view of life I need. How about you?
For inspiration, especially this April 4th week, I draw on the wisdom of my “mentors”—forever grateful for how they made me/us feel: Dr. Maya Angelou, born April 4, 1928; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated April 4, 1968.
I was in my last semester of graduate school when I met Maya Angelou. She pronounced me a writer, took me into her embrace, and treated me as a daughter/friend. We last spoke in the weeks before she died.
Somewhere in between, we lost touch for a few years, but came together again in 2007. She phoned me upon hearing that my former-husband (father of my twin daughters), Max Roach, had died. She’d known him longer than I. She’d known me, often, better than I knew myself. Most importantly, she knew a thing or two about life, loss, and grace.
With her often-quoted line -- going deep, as only that voice could -- she commanded me to write: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” “Write it,” said Maya, “sister” to my husband, mother/friend to me. “Write your book. Then you will understand.” (I'm finishing that book now.)
Writer, waiter, welder, whoever we are; whatever we do: We must all tell our stories that we may all better understand.
Not one for regrets, Dr. Angelou was, however, haunted by the assassination of Dr. King—his loss as her friend; as our “drum major for justice.” Only 39 years old, a husband, and father of four, he’d been murdered on her fortieth birthday.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise . . .
Still -- thanks to them and all the shoulders upon which we stand -- we rise . . . we rise . . . we rise . . .
* * * * Still I Rise (c) Maya Angelou 1978
On the show:
Thank You Dr. King commemorates the anniversary of the assassination: the man, the mission, and the moment that changed the world. Where were you when? How did the assassination change your life? Where have we gone from there? Three guests in three differing situations share their unique stories and points-of-view:
In Chicago, Irma McClaurin, PhD, a high school student, saw her neighborhood become occupied territory as heavily armed National Guardsmen patrolled the streets to control Black people's lives.
In New Haven, Ted Landsmark, PhD, was a Yale undergrad. He and a White classmate packed a bag and drove to Atlanta -- knowing there'd be danger and hoping to be of help as an international throng of mourners headed to town for the funeral. Years later, as a young attorney, he'd gain unwanted international attention in his own right.
In semi-rural upstate New York, W. Mark Colvson, was young enough to not fully understand what was happening and old enough to never forget the look on his parents' faces.
April 13: Max Rodriguez, founder the Harlem Book Fair and founding-publisher of QBR: The Black Book Review. We’re talking books—wonderful African-American books, themes, and authors!
April 20: Why, On Earth, Would Janus Adams – African American mother, historian – produce a kids' book-and-audio on Mark Twain?
The Janus Adams Show airs and streams live Saturdays at 4:00 pm ET on WJFF. For more information about our shows and guests, visit JanusAdams.com. Subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud.
Happy Spring! Janus
Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, historian, keynote speaker, Dr. Janus Adams is publisher of BackPaxKids.com and host of public radio’s
“The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.