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Essay: What Maya Angelou Means To Me


Posted: August 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Essay contest winner Courtney Cooper, 9, center, stands with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies after receiving her iPad Mini tablet.

Since I am only nine years old, I don’t have lots of information about Maya Angelou’s poems, books, or fame. So, I just decided to talk about what Dr. Maya Angelou did for me. My Mom had me read the poem “Phenomenal Woman” for a possible school project one day. After that, whenever I am feeling a little sad for being different, I just remember how happy and important reading that poem makes me feel.

All of my life I have lived in Valencia. I love my family. I love my house. I love my neighborhood street. Most of the time, I love my school. But sometimes, I don’t love being one of only two African American girls in the whole third grade at my school.

I imagine that some people might be annoyed by having so many questions about their hair, but thanks to Maya Angelou, I don’t get annoyed anymore. I wear it in braids all the time instead of having it straightened.

Getting invited to play dates and having a sleepover at my house can be tricky when you stand out from other kids. My Mom always says that people are not very trusting of people who may look different from them. I’ve learned to love being different and accepting others, no matter how they look or act.

Thanks to Maya, I say: “It’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care, ‘cause I’m a (young) woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman”. . .YEAH, that’s me!!

On the day that Dr. Angelou died, I saw an interview on TV where she was talking to Miss Oprah Winfrey about her life challenges. I learned that Maya overcame a lot of problems when she was a young girl. She talked about how she was told by many people that she would not become anyone who mattered to society. I’m so glad that she didn’t believe what others were saying to her.

Although I have great parents, sometimes I don’t always feel like they can understand what I am feeling as a kid in my situation. Somehow and for some unknown reason, I felt better reading the words of Dr. Angelou because I know that she was someone really important who found a way to make being different become something really positive.

When I realized that she was asked to speak to at the White House by President Obama, I just knew that her words must have helped a lot of people and did some amazing things to be recognized by the leader of our government!

Maya Angelou’ s legacy taught me to stand out in the crowd and be proud of the color of my skin and being different from most of the kids that I am around. I hope that I can make a difference in the lives of other people, like Maya Angelou made in my life.


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