It was just last month that Maya Angelou was unable to come to Arkansas because of health problems that left her hospitalized. She had been scheduled to make an appearance in Fayetteville on April 11.
Her well-written cancellation letter to the Fayetteville Public Library addressed what Arkansas meant to her:
Dear Fayetteville Public Library, Arkansas Family and Friends,
I am profoundly saddened that I am unable to be with you on Friday, April 11, 2014. I long to come to the state of Arkansas, in general, and I long to be in Fayetteville, in particular. I learned in Arkansas at a very young age from my grandmother who taught me, ‘when you learn, teach, and when you get, give’.
In Arkansas I also learned not to complain. I was taught that there are people all over the world who have less than I have and who would give anything for a portion of my possessions. They went to sleep last night as I went to sleep and they never awakened. Their beds have become their cooling boards and their blankets have become their winding sheets and they would give anything and everything for what I was complaining about.
In Arkansas, I learned to trust love, not the romance of it, but the heart of it. In Arkansas I learned to have respect for friendship, to honor it, to trust it and to build it.
An unexpected ailment put me into the hospital. I will be getting better and the time will come when I can receive another invitation from my state and you will recognize me for I shall be the tall Black lady smiling. I ask you to please keep me in your thoughts, in your conversation and in your prayers.