The Dream In Color African American Heritage project is sponsored by Target and Scholastic, Inc. It features various videos of Renaissance woman Dr. Maya Angelou, poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. Here are some of her words from the video entitled “How can students find their creative voice?”
Dr. Maya Angelou: “I would say to young people and to old people or upper middle age, that we have seriously crippled ourselves and our children by telling people, ‘don’t try all these different things. You’ll become a jack of all trades and a master of none’. That’s ridiculous. You can become the master of everything. The best you can be.
“You know, we don’t understand talent. We don’t understand electricity. We probably use about one millionth of one billionth percent of the electricity around us. However, you can plug into two little holes in the wall, or three. You can light up a church, a cathedral, a synagogue, a temple. You can light up a surgery. You can light up a…a bedroom. Or you can electrocute a person strapped in a chair. Electricity makes no demands. It says if you are intelligent you will use me intelligently. If you’re not, you will use me destructively. But I’m here.
“Talent is like that. If you study the craft and you like…think you’d like to paint, study the craft, respect it, and then get the best materials you can afford and paint. You will do a good job. You’re not going to become maybe John Biggers or Matisse or Van Gogh, or Romare Bearden, but you can do a good job. Well, I believe that for all the arts. I mean I might not be able to sing because of my voice. I might not have the voice, but if voice was in it Ray Charles and Willie Nelson wouldn’t even be listened to. So, it is something other than that which has made certain singers beloved. I think I would say to young men and women study.
“First, study yourself. See who you really want to be and as soon as you say, see it, say it, put it out into the universe. I want to be a dancer. I want to be a mathematician. I want to be an inventor. I want to be a doctor. I want to be a writer. You must say it, and then go about the business of becoming it. Study it…and bring all your energies to it. Sooner or later someone will say, ‘Are you the kid over there, I think I heard you speak one time. Well, you know, I have an opening in my school for someone just like you, or at my plant, or at my job’. You see?”
(This was taken from the transcript on the Target website).
The parts in bold are what impacted me the most. Truly amazing and inspirational… There are several other powerful videos of Dr. Angelou that you can view here.