Millions of people around the world have been inspired by the beautiful language and storytelling that Maya Angelou’s legacy left behind.
Her books, poetry and her enigmatic and open personality made her a beloved mother of Black women who saw their stories in her own. One of those women is Oprah Winfrey. The two shared a long documented genuine friendship, as their lives paralleled in a multitude of ways. From surviving extreme poverty and sexual abuse in their childhoods to morphing into strong, powerful, nurturing women whom many still wish to emulate, the two were destined to have a connection after their first encounter.
On Thursday the media mogul posted a celebratory message dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Angelou on what would have been her 91st birthday.
“Maya would have been 91 today! This is my favorite picture of us. Even in death I feel the unbroken continuity” of her mother-sister friendship referenced in the Henry Scott Holland canon. ‘Death is nothing at all,'” she wrote, accompanied with the verses from the poem.
But a commentator tried to jump in and correct Oprah for referring to Dr. Angelou as “Maya,” a name she only reserved for people whom she considered to be her peers.
“Ms. Angelou to you Oprah. You have no license to call her Maya. She will always be Ms. Angelou,” @polo.daily wrote in response on Instagram.
His message was in reference to an older video that resurfaced last month showing Dr. Angelou correcting a 20-year-old woman (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with the woman who revealed her age, correcting previous Tweets which said she was 14) for calling her “Maya” during an episode of People are Talking. The clip went viral on social media and sparked discussions on how to address your elders and whether or not Dr. Angelou came off too strong in her tone.
While it was not as widely shared, Dr. Angelou did eventually apologize to the girl regarding her tone, but social media was committed to dredging up a past sound bite.
But Oprah held her composure to let the person know that she was allowed to call Dr. Angelou “Maya” and was given permission to do so by the woman herself.
“She actually gave me permission after the 2nd or 3rd visit to her home to call her “Maya.” Believe me I’ve witnessed when other folk did NOT have that permission!” Oprah replied back.
In a world that lives for the drag, we stan a queen that can gather someone together without stooping to the same level of negative energy!