If there was anyone who taught us about Black beauty, it was literary great Maya Angelou. It was in her extraordinary body of work where many found hope, healing, and positive affirmations that even the first African American First Lady of the United States continues to carry with her. In Michelle Obama’s eulogy for Dr. Maya Angelou in 2014, she spoke about how the profound power of Angelou’s words helped her affirm her own beauty and “carried a little Black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House.” Watch Michelle Obama’s full eulogy here:
One of our favorite excerpts from Michelle Obama’s eulogy reads:
“The first time I read ‘Phenomenal Woman’, I was struck by how she celebrated Black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace. Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful. And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of Black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.
And, oh, how desperately Black girls needed that message. As a young woman, I needed that message. As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.
Dr. Angelou, thank you for your words of wisdom and using your platform to empower Black women and girls everywhere.