An Evening In Chester County With Dr. Maya Angelou
The auditorium at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is packed. Scanning the seats, aisles and doorways, there are children that look as young as six, and grey haired ladies and gents bent from carrying the weight of the world for many years, and everyone in between.
The first time I had heard of this woman was watching an afternoon talk show, after school. She was a guest, and I as a teen, sat in front of the television in complete wonder at this woman with a sassy wisdom that seemed to penetrate my being. Here she was, years later, just feet from me, and I felt like time had stood still. The same wisdom, the same voice, only this time, real, not on television.
“The light in the clouds creates a rainbow. In the worst of times, we see only the clouds, but if we can see the light in those clouds my children, we will see the rainbow. Maybe you are the rainbow to someone else. Maybe someone is looking at you inspired by your dress or the way you strut with confidence that they will adopt. Maybe you are showing them the possibility in their cloud. We are all rainbows,” says Dr. Maya Angelou.
Every word she says is complete with intention, with caring and love. Her laugh is easy and hearty and her authenticity shines. As she speaks, we are all like children, listening to her very words. She is giving all of us parenting advice. Not just the parents, but society.
The hardships that she endured as a child, when she became as a response to cope, a selective mute for years, brings some people in the audience to tears, yours truly inclusive. However, she tells us what her grandmother used to tell her which was equally moving.
“There I was a mute, sent to home to home. Now back with my grandmother, and she loved me, yes she did, loved me with her heart. She would sit me down and braid my big, my big black hair, and tell me, that one day I was going to teach the world, that I was not an idiot like everyone said I was, that I was going to to travel the world and do great things,” said Dr. Angelou.
She went on to say that it used to be that parents would tell their children daily that they should study, to do well, to dream, to live, and parents would sit with children and help them study, help them do well, to dream and to live. She then questioned, “Where did that go?”
In a deep, concerned voice, like a loving parent to an adult child, giving them advice on raising a grandchild, she stated, “We’ve got to bring that back, we’ve to to tell children in this very hard world that we are living in, to be stronger than the propaganda but focus on who they are inside.”
She talked about teachers. How teachers are so burned out often because they are misused sometimes by the system, by the parents and by the children who seem to come into classes already with a beaten down spirit. As she discusses the importance of parenting and the importance of teachers reaching past burn out, she says something profound. “One student can make a mediocre teacher great”
By parenting in a way that helps children dream and be curious, to keep them involved in life, the teacher then becomes more involved and thus starts a circle of success.
Her focus on love, on learning and on using energies toward parenting, ourselves and others, to be constructive, not destructive, will help people to find that liberation of being a peaceful, kind human. “Much needed in this world, much needed for the world of our children”, she stated.