Remembering Maya Angelou: Locals reflect on the renowned poet

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 3:49pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 12:44pm

People around the country are mourning the loss of renowned poet Maya Angelou Wednesday. The 86-year-old died at home in North Carolina early this morning. Many say Angelou's voice had a global impact.

"It's like asking somebody what impact did Bob Marley have on Reggae."

Graceful and electrifying, that's what Chancelier Skidmore remembers the first time he saw Maya Angelou perform.

"It wasn't just a cold recitation of a poem, and it was exhilarating," Skidmore said.

Skidmore said Maya was one of his main influences to perform his poetry.

"It was so impressive to me, seeing her do this," Skidmore continued. "She made it seem so effortless."

Maya Angelou was known for her poetry, activism, and philanthropy, but for Meta Davis, it was the healing power of Angelou's words that really hit home.

"People have read her poems, and turned defeat into victory," Davis said. "It's a great loss. It's a great loss to humanity."

Davis runs a support group for women called SISTA which is part of HAART's HIV Prevention development. She helps educate people about HIV and support those who have it.

"The one thing that we noticed that all the women have in common when they read Maya Angelou's 'Still I Rise,' they had that in common. That no matter what, I can overcome," Davis said.

Davis uses Maya Angelou's poems to help other women look beyond the challenges of having HIV.

"And them hearing where she came from," Davis said. "The very fact that she was a single parent. The fact that she was raped by her mother's boyfriend, and still she rose, still she rose!"

"She is a giant, and I don't know if poetry is going to have another giant like Maya Angelou, ever," Skidmore said.

Angelou won numerous of awards for her work including the Presidential Medal of Honor.

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