Statement from Marian Wright Edelman on the loss of Dr. Maya Angelou:

May 28, 2014, 16:50 ET from Children's Defense Fund

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Our thoughts and prayers are with Maya Angelou's family and her legion of friends and admirers. She was a lantern when the world was a darker place, and her lyrical words provoked anger, comfort and hope for millions during the Civil Rights era and in the decades that followed. As the first Black woman poet laureate in the nation's history she was a role model for Black girls to dream of charting new and bolder courses to lead their families and communities and the country to a better America. I am grateful for her friendship to the Children's Defense Fund over four decades and particularly for her dedication to CDF's Beat the Odds® scholarship and leadership development program. In 1995, she spoke these words to the first class of servant leaders to graduate from the CDF Freedom Schools® Program's National Training at Haley Farm:

"Let me tell you who you are.  You are the rainbow in the clouds for people whose faces you have not seen yet, whose names you don't know yet, whose histories you haven't been told yet.  And you are, each one of you, individually, privately, each one of you is a rainbow chosen to be in the clouds for somebody."

They were based on her poem 'I'm a Rainbow in Somebody's Cloud,' and I will always remember her sharing that poem with groups of young people over the years, including the moment when she recited it for more than 3,000 people, more than half of them young leaders of color, at our 2012 conference in Cincinnati. Everyone in the room leapt to their feet and gave her a sustained standing ovation. Today even as we mourn her passing, we should be cheering her on to what she certainly believed would be a better world. Leaving the final words to Dr. Angelou from her last tweet seems only right: Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God."  

For more information contact:
Patti Hassler, Vice President of Communications and Outreach
202-662-3554 (office)

SOURCE Children's Defense Fund