Today marks what would have been Dr. Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday. To celebrate the poet, writer and civil rights activist, Google has created a doodle featuring a full lineup of high-profile celebrities reciting Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.”
The doodle begins with Angelou’s own voice, narrating the beginning of her famous poem, followed by Alicia Keys, America Ferrera, Martina McBride, Guy Johnson (Angelou’s son), Laverne Cox and Oprah Winfrey each reading a verse. The words of the poem are animated to coincide with the narration, along with images highlighting Angelou’s life.
“Dr. Angelou’s work is filled with such incredible wisdom and spiritual teachings,” says Laverne Cox on the Google Doodle blog featuring Angelou’s doodle. “It feels like the ultimate privilege to have the opportunity to speak her words. She is a national treasure we should always celebrate.”
Oprah Winfrey is also quoted: “Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she did it all. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence, and a fiery, fierce grace and abounding love.”
From the Google Doodle blog:
Through her works, Dr. Angelou gave a voice to millions. She championed women’s rights and gender equality. She redefined black beauty and celebrated African-American oral traditions. She advocated against war and campaigned for universal peace. She was also the recipient of numerous honors during her lifetime.
Google also shared comments from Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson, who says his mom believed people were strongest when unified.
“My mother’s principal message was one of inclusiveness; that despite our ethnic, religious and cultural differences, we are more alike than unalike,” writes Johnson, “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.”
In her lifetime, Angelou received more than 50 honorary degrees, wrote seven memoirs and 15 books of poetry. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie,” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. On January 20, 1993, she was the first poet in three decades to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration ceremony when she read her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she wrote for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
Angelou’s doodle leads to a search for “Maya Angelou” and was created by a team of nine doodlers, including an art lead, two engineers and a full production staff. It is currently being shared on Google’s US home page and nearly all of its international home pages.