Wisdom Wednesday: Maya Angelou’s inspiration

This morning, I woke up feeling really blue and not just because of the weather.  I spent several hours in the library yesterday with my cousin, Monique pouring through the Stirling Family Papers. The Stirlings owned my third great-grandmother, Eliza Burton and I hope to find some information about her and other ancestors among the vast collection of the Louisiana based family that owned her.  But wading through these reams of documents about the Stirling’s endless acres of land, the hundreds if not thousands of slaves they held in bondage to work their land, and a free person of color  who sold other blacks to the Stirlings is really bringing me down.   This morning I was feeling like why bother researching this stuff when it’s so depressing.

But then, I opened up the arts section of the New York Times, headline “SCHOMBURG CENTER IN HARLEM ACQUIRES MAYA ANGELOU ARCHIVE” and read this:

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them.  During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything?  The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important.  It says: `I was here. I may be sold tomorrow.  But you know I was here.'” – Maya Angelou

I can’t do anything about the degradations of the past, but I can help protect that history and honor it by telling my family’s part in it.  Thanks Maya Angelou for donating your work so that future generations can learn from it and also for helping me today to keep on keeping on!



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13 responses to “Wisdom Wednesday: Maya Angelou’s inspiration

  1. Deb

    Great post. I’d like to also quote Elie Wiesel, who writes, “It is our duty to bear witness for the dead and for the living. (we) have no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

  2. thank you for sharing your journey so openly, honestly, and with such beauty…xoxo

  3. Maya Angelou’s words are so encouraging. Keep on keeping on.

  4. Oh, Dionne! This is so lovely and timely! I’m so glad your heart was mended and that you are re-energized for your amazing project. I just know it’s going to be a huge success!


  5. It does get depressing at times and i agree it’s up to us to bare witness to those hard lives and share them.

  6. Maya’s words are so true. I hope they re-energize you in this beautiful and ever-so-worthwhile project, Dionne!

  7. Kerri Dunn

    You are doing God’s work..Kudos..

  8. She is so correct. It’s vitally important to know, to write it all down, and to share it. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to read that information, but remember how strong your ancestors were and how proud they would be of you today.

  9. Vernetta Norman-Forbes

    My early years yearn to imagine me,who am I,& where’s the rest of us(my family)? My heart knew that there had to have been many before my time. I was correct; my many years of questioning other family members failed. They were so still & secretive…I wanted to know why? Time-consuming efforts prevailed much.Bless God, I’ve uncovered peelings of time. It’s on now!…

    I love & salute my, “Maya Angelou” words-of-wisdom…for all to “Tell-The-Story!”

  10. Words of wisdom indeed, and it is always great to find another link to our past.

  11. Vernetta

    Hi Elisibeth!
    Yes it is and I find it simply awesome to connect with others who possess like values.


  12. Vernetta

    Forgive my misspelling…..”Elisabeth”


  13. Great post and thanks for the reminder of why we do this!

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