WHEREAS: Dr. Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Stamps, Arkansas, at the age of three to live with her grandmother, Annie Henderson, and her Uncle Willie. Americans mourn Dr. Angelou, who died after a period of ill health on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and
WHEREAS: Young Maya Angelou witnessed the bigotry that existed in her little town, but she always indicated that her strong spiritual faith, sense of fair play, and belief in one’s inner beauty stemmed from her experiences while living in Stamps; and
WHEREAS: After a four-year period of not speaking at all, Maya was befriended by a caring teacher, who introduced her to classic literature and helped her find the tools that would later allow her to become an eloquent and commanding voice for the excluded and dispossessed of America; and
WHEREAS: Maya moved to her mother’s home in California, discovering that life in California was far different from her racially charged experiences in rural Arkansas, and she became the first Black cable car conductor in San Francisco; and
WHEREAS: Angelou received a scholarship to study dance, drama, and music at San Francisco’s Labor School, where her education served as a foundation for her social and political activism. Although that was the conclusion of her formal education, Dr. Angelou has been lecturer, teacher, professor, and analyst; and
WHEREAS: Her lyrical poetry and prose speak of the bonds that all people share, helping the citizens of our nation to better understand one another, and as she became an internationally renowned bestselling author, poet, actor, and political activist, Dr. Angelou was also a first-year inductee into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame; and
WHEREAS: Dr. Angelou held over fifty honorary university degrees and was known throughout the world as a spokesperson for human rights, freedom, justice, and peace; and
WHEREAS: Angelou is perhaps best known for her series of seven autobiographies, focused on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, brought her international recognition and acclaim, as did her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, written and recited for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration;
WHEREAS: Citizens of this State extend deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of Dr. Maya Angelou, an enormously talented performer and gifted poet, whose Arkansas roots can be heard and felt in her writing;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, MIKE BEEBE, Governor of the State of Arkansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the State of Arkansas, in tribute to the memory of Dr. Maya Angelou and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that all State flags be flown at half-staff on June 7, 2014.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas to be affixed this 2nd day of June, in the year of our Lord 2014.