Last Word

On Maya Angelou and the power of words


“’Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning.”

― Maya Angelou, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou


As the world mourns the loss of one of the great writers of our time, it’s important that we explore this notion of voice again today.

I was surprised to learn this tragic aspect of Ms. Angelou’s young life in one of today’s obituaries:

“The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him.

‘My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,’ she said.

From the silence, a louder voice was born.”

This is another poignant example of just how powerful our voices can be — whether blaring and bold or withholding and silent.

As I shared yesterday in my post Silenced: Wrestling with the urge to be heard, pause today and give some thought to how your writing and your voice can have the best, most significant impact on the world.

Just what is it that you want to say?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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