Riché Richardson, professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences and scholar of African American literature and southern studies, reflects on the loss of one of the world’s most inspiriting people, Maya Angelou.
“Maya Angelou was a genius, a Renaissance woman, and one of the world's most inspiring people. When she served as President Bill Clinton's inaugural poet in 1993, I was among the many people who were deeply inspired when Dr. Angelou made history by reading her epic poem, ‘On the Pulse of Morning,’ a moment that also recollected the reading of Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration.
“As a scholar of African American literature, I teach her work. Like many, I love her poetry. I am also inspired by her longstanding commitment to serial autobiography in African American letters, which was first established within the slave narrative as a genre in the late eighteenth century. She is most typically celebrated for her poetry, but her multi-volume autobiography is a masterpiece that should be read and studied comprehensively. I am inspired by her remarkable story. I am deeply saddened by her loss.”