Maya Angelou was a phenomenal woman, but she wasn’t alone.
I learned about Maya at a young age. First, when in 4th grade, my teacher Mr. Graves made us recite, learn and memorize her poem. I remember all the boys in our gifted and talented class sulked and complained. We didn’t want to say the words of Phenomenal Woman out loud.
Getting 4th grade boys to say, “I’m a woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman. That’s me,” is tough. But we did it; fear of failing was worse than a few jokes.
We got some culture, as Mr. Graves put it. Fast forward to me being a little older, that knowledge of Maya’s poem came in handy when I started to fall in love with my phenomenal high school girlfriend.
I share that story to say that Maya’s words had an effect on all of us, male and female.
It’s a good thing to remember, because if you turn on the radio today you would think phenomenal women no longer exist. In 2014, all we seem to hear is that “these hoes ain’t loyal,” and it’s nothing to “cut a bitch off.”
Maya’s death is sad, but thankfully it’s forcing people to put the ratchet on pause for a little so we can reiterate that women are phenomenal.
However, it’s not her most famous poem that gives me hope on this day, but rather a poem of hers called The Pulse Of The Morning, in which she recites:
“Here on the pulse of this new day you may have the grace to look up and out and into your sister’s eye and into your brother’s face. Your country and say simply very simply with hope. Good Morning.” — Maya Angelou
I hope Maya’s passing reminds us that there are a bunch of phenomenal women out there and maybe just maybe, some of our singers, movie makers and creatives will decide that hey, it’s time to make something to highlight just how amazing females truly are in the world.
Check out ten phenomenal women in the gallery below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
1. Quvenzhane Wallis
The youngest woman to ever be nominated for an Oscar Award.
2. Dee Rees
A protege of Spike Lee, she was named breakthrough director of the year by the Gotham Awards and garnered critical acclaim for directing "Pariah."
3. Britney Spears
She proved that just because you hit a bump in the road, doesn't mean you can't bounce back. After her public meltdown in 2007, Britney came back to achieve success again with a double platinum album in 2012, as well as booking a 2-year residency in Vegas in 2013.
4. Charlize Theron
This Oscar-winning actress grew up in a dysfunctional household. After years of abuse, her mother shot and killed her father in self defense. Charlize later found acting to help heal the wounds of her past to become one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood.
5. Gabrielle Union
A troubled past can't hold this phenomenal woman down. Gabby overcame abuse and rape to achieve success and has used her voice to help numerous charities, including Rape Foundation, Youth Lifeline and more.
6. Drew Barrymore
Childhood stardom introduced her to a world of drugs and alcohol, but she's found peace and has become an inspiration to many females in film, as well as a new mother.
7. Lupita Nyong'o
This Oscar-winning actress is currently breaking the mold; she's using her platform to inspire and was even named Hollywood's Most Beautiful Person.
Her struggles aside, it's what she's done after that has people in awe. From building everything from schools to a major network, Oprah has shown folks the blueprint for reaching another level.
9. Debbie Allen
A dance pioneer, Debbie has dedicated her life to giving youth an avenue to escape through dance.
10. JK Rowling
She's inspiration that proves where you're at doesn't write your future. She used her imagination to create one of the most successful book series ever - Harry Potter.