Alert
Close

Take AARP’s Smart Driver course and you could save money on your car insurance. Learn more

Remembering Maya Angelou

Remembering Maya Angelou
A. Barry Rand, AARP CEO

When I learned of Maya Angelou’s passing this morning, I remembered something she once wrote in Letter to My Daughter —“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” 

Maya Angelou spent her entire life being a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.  Through her 31 books, her poetry, her personal appearances and her other writings, she spread her legendary wisdom throughout the world, inspiring everyone who had the good fortune to come into contact with her personality and her work.

A former Poet Laureate of the United States, she was one of the great voices of contemporary literature and a remarkable Renaissance woman.  An educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, 12 of her books became best-sellers.  She was nominated for three Grammy Awards, and she received more than 50 honorary degrees from colleges and universities world- wide.  She achieved ultimate recognition in 2010 when President Obama bestowed on her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Maya Angelou was a long-time friend of AARP and of people 50+.  She entertained and enlightened audiences at our National Event & Expo for many years as our members listened in on her intimate conversations with luminaries such as Quincy Jones, Norman Lear, Whoopi Goldberg and others.  “At 50,” she told us, “you become the person you always wanted to be.”

In 2010, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of presenting Maya Angelou with the AARP Andrus Award, our association’s highest honor.  Then 82, her body was frail, but her mind was sharp and her spirit was strong.  She was certainly a rainbow in all of our clouds that evening.

Then, when AARP Foundation President, JoAnn Jenkins, asked her to lend her voice to an AARP Foundation video, she didn’t hesitate—masterfully and eloquently speaking for and to the nation’s most vulnerable and often forgotten older Americans.

Maya Angelou once remarked, “When I try to describe myself to God I say, "Lord, remember me? Black? Female? Six-foot tall? The writer? And I almost always get God's attention.”

On this day, Maya Angelou has God’s full attention.  And though we mourn her passing, we will forever know that she remains a rainbow in all of our clouds.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Search Press Center

PRESS CONTACTS

If you are an AARP member and not with the press, call 1-888-OUR-AARP or email member@aarp.org.

 

If you are a reporter with a media inquiry please contact the AARP Media Relations Office: 202-434-2560 or media@aarp.org.

 

Like us on Facebook: AARP Media Relations

Follow us on Twitter: @aarpmedia

 

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Anna's Linens

Member save 10% every day at Anna's Linens and AnnasLinens.com.

Faanui Bay, as seen from beach on Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Members save up to $525 on vacations at AARP® Travel Center powered by Expedia®

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular price menu items at Papa John's

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.