Maya’s Words


I was so out of sorts yesterday. The news of Maya Angelou’s death rocked me to the core.

Her words were such an integral part of many of our lives. For me, as a little black girl in Alabama, Mother Maya was a SHERO.

I remember one Friday, Mrs. Long at the Bellingrath Junior High library passing me a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings whispering, “Don’t you tell anybody I gave you this. They banned this book, but you, Tangie Girl, need to read it.”

I felt a rush from the conspiratorial nature of the exchange. I mean, I had to put it in my purse and promise not to take it out until I got home.

I went home and devoured it. I laughed and I cried. My Mama was working nights at the Downtown Nursing home. When she left for her 11 pm shift I was reading. When she came home at 7:30 am on Saturday, I was still reading.

Mama said, “Girl, what book kept you up all night?”

I said, “I can’t tell you. Mrs. Long said it was a banned book.”

Mama reached over to peak at the book, “Oh, I am not surprised they banned it.”

“You read it, Mama?”

“I ain’t just read it, baby. I lived it.”


In the moment, I realized Mama

the architect of my afro-puffs,

the drill sergeant of homework time,

the chief inspector of rooms

had stories and secrets and heartache and sorrow that I had never imagined. My Mama wasn’t just my mama; she was woman.


It would be another decade before my Mama told me her story. Her real story. And I am grateful to Mrs. Long and Dr. Maya Angelou for being the conduit to my mother’s truth.

Maya Angelou lived a life out loud and in full, at a time when most women, especially black women from the South, were invisible.

Mother Maya was a cable car driver, an editor, a drummer, a Calypso singer, and actor, a script writer, a producer, a director, a poet, and, most importantly, a teacher.

Maya Angelou was a Renaissance woman.
The great lessons of her life: Live fully, use all of your gifts, and teach others to use theirs.

I’m not sad today. I’m inspired. I’m inspired to do all those things I’ve been waiting to do. I’m doing them without seeking permission or approval. I’m not waiting on someone to discover me.

Like Maya, I’m putting on my teaching hat. I’m working 1-on-1 to teach sassy, funny, amazing solo entrepreneurs how to strut their stuff on video.

I’ve finished writing my reality show pitch…about teachers.

I’m also planning a new webshow that interviews amazing and inspiring women…launching in July.

I’m going to live out loud. I’m gonna do as much as I possibly can.

When the trumpet sounds, and I’m called to the big TV Show in the Sky, I want people to say, “That Tangela lived. OUT. LOUD.”

Have a great day…. and SHOW UP in your life. BE. VISIBLE.

More importantly, if you have a message to share USE. YOUR. WORDS.








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3 Responses to Maya’s Words

  1. Stephanie Vogt May 29, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    Beautifully stated Tangela……

    • Tangela May 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      OMG. Thank you so much Steph! Hope you are doing well.

  2. Danielle Rogers May 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    What a PHENOMENAL writer you are! I always knew you were a gifted speaker and comedienne, but girl your writing skills are second to NONE!

    Thank YOU for that well-thought out blog. You’ve inspired me just by being YOU and now you kicked it up a notch with THIS!

    God Bless you and I think I need to have you as a guest on my blog/talk radio program! Let’s chat…..SOON!

    Danielle Rogers aka MamaD Rogers