Jasmine Lewis
Category: 2020 High School Winner

Jasmine Lewis

University of Alabama

Throughout my lifetime, I have been graced by a myriad of gifts from black figures of brilliance. The black community has been a source of inspiration and empowerment in my life throughout my years. One of the most renowned and prominent influences in my life is the magnificent Ms. Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou is a remarkable figure in history. She epitomizes a modern-day renaissance woman and embodies strength, resilience, and unconditional love – all important components of my ethos. I first remember seeing her in a movie when I was around four years old. I can recall pondering upon how beautiful she was and beaming at how she spoke. Knowing the power of her spirit through television screens, makes it unimaginable how amazing she was in person.

Even in my childhood, I have always been immensely in love with words. You could often find me scribbling song lyrics at the age of five and writing elaborate poetry in my best cursive by the time I was eight. With time, I grew to learn more about Ms. Angelou’s works of literature. In eighth grade, I organized a project in devotion to her for a Creative Expressions class assignment. I gave the presentation with her abundant spirit supporting me while speaking of her difficult childhood – including her re-discovering her voice after being left speechless for years, her advocacy for revolutionary change as part of the civil rights movement, and other events in her life that all contributed to her blossoming into the Phenomenal Woman that many of us identify her as today. Her boundless ambitious has led to her success in fulfilling her life purpose in becoming a universal educator, artist, and mentor. She is a multifaceted talent. A poet, an actress, a singer, a dancer, a director, an activist, and an entrepreneur. Conveying the definition of limitless possibility, she has touched hearts across the globe by using her voice in storytelling and amplifying the struggles and experiences of many others. She has aided in expanding my perspective on life, compounding my compassion and receptivity, and illustrating to me the possibility of crafting a future and an occupation by doing everything that you love.

I aspire to implement my own ideas to ignite change in various sectors, from poverty to education, art to environmental issues and racial tensions, and inspire others to change the world. She has equipped me with the tools to build a mentality of hope and a relentless work ethic. Her actions have instilled in me the vitality to embrace every aspect of my essence, positive and negative, as part of my greatness. She has taught me to possess a great ambition to navigate the world through passion, solicitude, and creativity.

I am forever grateful for Maya Angelou’s incredible contributions to not only myself, but to the world as well.