“DID YOU grow up in her shadow? No, I didn’t. I grew up in her light.”
So are the illuminating words spoken in the past by Guy Johnson, who is among the featured speakers in Wednesday’s Google Doodle celebrating the legendary writer-activist Maya Angelou, who was born 90 years ago Wednesday in St. Louis.
Johnson is the son of Angelou, and for the anniversary Doodle animation, he joins in the reading of his mother’s poem “Still I Rise” alongside such celebrity voices as Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, Laverne Cox, Martina McBride and America Ferrera. The work is part of Angelou’s collection “And Still I Rise,” which was published 40 years ago this summer.
“As we spend what would have been my mother’s 90th birthday, I think of her melodious tones speaking about the need for tolerance, understanding, forgiveness and love,” Johnson tells Google.
“My mother’s perspective was that human beings being social animals are strongest when they are unified,” continues Johnson, who, along with his wife, Stephanie Floyd-Johnson, aided this Doodle project. “My mother’s principal message was one of inclusiveness; that despite our ethnic, religious and cultural differences, we are more alike than unalike. She saw all our differences in language, orientation and perspective as an indication of the richness of our imagination and creativity, and as elements of our nature that we should celebrate.”
Angelou, a Grammy-winning author who received the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died in 2014.
And still, her words rise, today in lush and liquid animation.