Maya Angelou, Rachel Corrie and the struggle for justice

American author, historian and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86.

Angelou is best known for her 1969 memoir of growing up in the racist US south, entitled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

In a statement on Facebook announcing Angelou’s death, her family said: “She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

Angelou’s passion for equality, tolerance and peace naturally placed her on the same path as the Palestinian people’s quest for freedom.

In the video below, recorded in 2006, she reads out an email from American peace activist Rachel Corrie in which Corrie shares her thoughts on the struggle for justice.

In 2003 Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli occupation army (IOC) armoured bulldozer in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

She had come to Gaza as part of her senior-year college assignment to connect her home town with Rafah in a sister cities project.While there, she had joined International Solidarity Movement activists in their non-violent attempts to prevent the IOC from demolishing Palestinian homes.

Rachel Corrie

Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes

On 16 March 2003, less than two months after her arrival, wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket and, until shortly before her death, using a megaphone, she was murdered while standing in the path of an Israeli bulldozer that she believed was about to demolish the house of local pharmacist Samir Nasralla’s family whom she had befriended. She was run over twice by the bulldozer, resulting in a fractured skull, shattered ribs and punctured lungs.

Angelou was a hero who suffered the injustices and indignities inflicted on African Americans by American supremacists, but she lived to see her people overcome some of the worst of their oppression.

Corrie was a selfless hero who could not stand aside in the face of the injustice and humiliation inflicted by Jewish supremacists on the Palestinian people. She was murdered at the tender age of 24 before she could see justice done to the people whose cause she had adopted.

Rest in peace, Maya Angelou. You have set an example for generations of decent people to follow.

Rest in peace, Rachel Corrie. Though you will not see it, justice will prevail in Palestine, sooner or later.

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