Maya Angelou united us all.  She met us where we lived and showed us a way to higher ground. No more was that the case than for black women.

As young girls, we turned to her books, finding our untold stories in her words: That Southern girlhood in segregated Stamps, Ark., the childhood rape, the silence and then the defiant beauty and grace that emerged from the mess of it all helped us craft better selves.

Before she was Oprah’s BFF and a poet to presidents, she belonged to black women most of all, articulating our struggles, giving us a reason to sing, telling us that we mattered, too.

Here is what she taught us:

And here, Angelou delivers “Still I Rise”: