Who is Maya Angelou?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

It was probably 2014, around this time (May 28), when Maya Angelou passed that everyone was talking about the famous poet. I had just begun working on my startup dedicated to violence against women after my long career in technology. At that time, my oldest daughter was working with me. I asked her, “Who is Maya Angelou?”

She was shocked and somewhat appalled that I could ask such an ignorant literary question.

She told me she was one of the most famous contemporary poets and civil rights activists of our time. I shrugged, and went on with what I was doing.

It took me a few years to finally dig into Angelou’s brilliance. When I found the poem, Still I Rise, I recognized myself in it. It reminded me of what one of my male tech partners once said about me that I didn’t understand, so I had to look it up. He told me he admired how I would, “Rise like a Phoenix, over and over again.”

Such a universal truth for women emboldened with the will to survive, to overcome.

And therein lies some of the mystery as to why I’m uninformed as to the great feminist writers. I spent a lifetime competing in a man’s world, surrounded by men, reading men’s words predominantly. I did not have the privilege, nor the luxury, to invest in learning about the oppression and discrimination that dogged me throughout my professional career.

I am learning now.