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“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou was a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

She is known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. In 1971, Angelou published the Pulitzer Prize-nominated poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die. She later wrote the poem “On the Pulse of Morning“—one of her most famous works—which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Angelou has received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.

“I think that it’s one of the most important of the gifts you can give to the human race – to forgive people. And mind you, what you do, of course, is you liberate your own self – you liberate yourself from carrying that weight around. So that when you say, ‘I forgive you,’ it’s a giant gift. A gift that’s first to yourself – because it means you’re not toting that burden around and saying, ‘I have this. I will never forgive you.’ And then of course that means you will never be free, you will never be at ease – you will be continually burdened. So I think to learn how to forgive, it’s a great lesson to learn. And I never had that feeling that I had to carry the weight of somebody’s ignorance around with me. And that was true for racists who wanted to use the ‘n’ word when talking about me or about my people, or the stupidity of people who really wanted to belittle other folks because they weren’t pretty or they weren’t rich or they weren’t clever. I never had that feeling that I had to carry that around – that was somebody else’s problem not mine. And a part of that, of course, I learned from my mother, Vivian Baxter.”

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