Friday, May 30, 2014

Human Rights Leadership through Dance, Song and Poetry

Continuing a theme discussed by Hope Metcalf in yesterday's post, the distinguishing hallmark of human rights activism is restoring and sustaining human dignity, individually and collectively.  Maya Angelou spent her life learning and teaching us how to empower ourselves by restoring our own sense of self.  Ms. Angelou restored a sense of well being to us through her many artistic talents.  Her music, dance, poetry and prose soothed and inspired us.  Her poem Phenomenal Woman is no doubt one of the most widely circulated and read inspirational works for women who struggle to restore gender identity and gender pride.  Ms. Angelou's account of walking protected, as if unseen, through Watts during race riots and observing the chaos with a detached eye gives us an account of a community in distress that could be told only by someone who walked without judgment and who permitted us into her heart in sharing her own distress and grief.  Yet Ms. Angelou's influence was not limited to members of her own gender and race. 

Ms. Angelou's deep, unique voice reached the hearts of men and women of all races because she spoke of universal longings and needs. 

Ms. Angelou spoke of her struggle to restore herself after being raped at a young age.  The young girl who did not speak for five years following this horrible experience restored her own health and dignity with the help of her mother, who told her that Maya (then Marguerite) was the most interesting woman her mother knew.  Maya used her voice to lead others out of darkness into light and hope. 


Lying, thinking

Last night

How to find my soul a home

Where water is not thirsty

 And bread loaf is not stone

I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong

That nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out of here alone.

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