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Michelle Obama’s moving tribute to Maya Angelou

June 12th 2014 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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In an inspiring speech, Michelle Obama talks about the effect Maya Angelou has had on black women’s beauty

Last weekend, Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech at the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou’s memorial service. Speaking about the profound effect that she had on both her and her husband, and particularly on her self-esteem growing up, the First Lady's words perfectly captured the life of one of the most influential voices of our time.

“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.

"Her message was very simple: she told us that our worth had nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead she said, 'Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.' She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race."

Just like with Maya Angelou and Lupita Nyong’o at the recent annual Black Women of Hollywood Luncheon, we can all take inspiration from this growing group of amazing women when it comes to celebrating each other's strengths, beauty and individuality. It's great to see the debate on diversity continue to soar.

Watch the full video here.


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