"We Had Him": Revisiting Dr. Maya Angelou's Beautiful Tribute To MJ

I am interrupting my current post-in-progress to pay homage to Dr. Maya Angelou, who left us today after eighty-six extraordinary years. Today, many in the MJ fan community have been tweeting her beautiful poem that she wrote in tribute to Michael for his 2009 memorial. Maya Angelou did not attend Michael’s memorial service, but the powerful poem that she wrote in tribute was recited to the world by Queen Latifah. However, in 2010 Angelou became a dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait (she is one the dots close to his heart) and, during that session, recorded her only public reading of the poem.


Five years is a long time, and sometimes memories can be short. Seeing this poem retweeted over and over brought it all back, the pain and overwhelming sense of loss as we-a global community in mourning-struggled to make sense of our loss. In that time, Angelou did what all great poets do. She knew just the right words to say.

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing
Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace
Sing our songs among the stars and and walk our dances across the face of the moon

In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing
No clocks can tell our time and no oceans can rush our tides
With the abrupt absence of our treasure

Though we our many, each of us is achingly alone
Piercingly alone
Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him

He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance
Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did more than that

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
We had him
Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his
We had him

Beautiful, delighting our eyes
He raked his hat slant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him

We were enchanted with his passion because he held back nothing
He gave us all he had been given

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson

But we do know that we had him
And we are the world.-Maya Angelou

“Beautiful, Delighting Our Eyes”-Maya Angelou

Upon news of her passing, the Michael Jackson Estate released this statement:

Maya Angelou was a hero to the millions of people whose lives she enriched with her extraordinary wisdom, powerful words, eternal message of hope as well as her commitment to teaching others and sharing her… gifts. Upon Michael’s passing, Dr. Angelou wrote “We Had Him,” a poetic tribute to Michael in which she poignantly captured the world’s aching feeling of loss with its joy at having known Michael.

“He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style.
We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.
We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.
His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.
And we laughed and stomped our feet for him
We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.”

As we mourn the loss of Dr. Angelou, we honor her for having given us all she had been given.


Her death, coming as it has on the heels of Nelson Mandela’s passing, and with the fifth anniversary of Michael’s passing only a few mere weeks away, only serves to remind us of the great void of light that is ever growing among us. One by one, those who shone the brightest lights upon our humanity are fading out.

And the world is a colder place for their loss.  But for a little while, we had him.

And we had her.

"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."-Maya Angelou
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”-Maya Angelou


14 thoughts on “"We Had Him": Revisiting Dr. Maya Angelou's Beautiful Tribute To MJ”

  1. “Shadows on the wall
    Noises down the hall
    Life doesn’t frighten me at all
    Bad dogs barking loud
    Big ghosts in a cloud
    Life doesn’t frighten me at all

    Mean old Mother Goose
    Lions on the loose
    They don’t frigthen me at all
    Dragons breathing flame
    On my counterpane
    That doesn’t frighten me at all

    I go boo
    Make them shoo
    I make fun
    Way they run
    I won’t cry
    So they fly
    I just smile
    They go wild
    Life doesn’t frighten me at all

    Tough guys in a fight
    All alone at night
    Life doesn’t frighten at all
    Panthers in the park
    Strangers in the dark
    No, they don’t frighten me at all

    That new classroom where
    Boys all pull my hair
    (Kissy little girls
    With their hair in curls)
    They don’t frighten me at all

    Don’t show me frogs and snakes
    And listen for my scream,
    If I’m afraid at all
    It’s only in my dreams

    I’ve got a magic charm
    That I keep up my sleeve,
    I can walk the ocean floor
    And never have to breathe.

    Life doesn’t frighten me at all
    Not at all
    Not at all
    Life doesn’t frighten me at all
    The words of this woman have an energy, a power, a pride that I have rarely met: expressing love, expressing love, expressing grief, expressing anger, expressing joy, expressing bitterness.

    Expresses life, in all its forms, as someone who has lived the first place…RIP AND LOVE

  2. “One by one, those who shone the brightest lights upon our humanity are fading out.” So true..and now we need them more than ever..as it seems our descent into turmoil marches ever onwards…

    It was a beautiful tribute from this amazing woman. Thankyou for posting it here.

  3. Thank you for Maya Angelou’s beautiful poem for Michael, So full of love and compassion and expressing exactly how we all felt.

    “In the instant that Michael is gone we know nothing”

    This one could also have been written for Michael. An excerpt.

    Still I rise

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may trod me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Does my sassiness upset you?
    Why are you beset with gloom?
    ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
    Pumping in my living room.

    Did you want to see me broken?
    Bowed head and lowered eyes?
    Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
    Weakened by my soulful cries?

    Does my haughtiness offend you?
    Don’t you take it awful hard
    ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
    Diggin’ in my own backyard.

    Does my sexiness upset you?
    Does it come as a surprise
    That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
    At the meeting of my thighs?

    I rise
    I rise
    I rise.

    RIP Maya Angelou.

  4. “Michael’s passing only a few mere weeks away, only serves to remind us of the great void of light that is ever growing among us. One by one, those who shone the brightest lights upon our humanity are fading out.” Those words pierced my heart. And, they made me realize that we cannot let that light go out. All who love Michael Jackson, and those great beacons of humanity and justice, must take up their torches and continue to light the world. Though we may not have achieved the level of success and recognition that was theirs, light does not differentiate. It simply illumines. Though I miss him terribly, I can’t help but feel another wave of contentment knowing that he is there to welcome home and rejoice in another brilliant light! One day, we, too, will step into that world, and be bathed forever in that light! Oh Happy Day!

  5. Thank you Maya , for the wonderful tribute that was rendered at MJ” memorial service. People like Oprah would have been aghast at what you did. People like you ,Nelson Mandela,etc, proved how not not be hypocrites on how they view others and what RIGHT they have to judge others, even when they don’t really know them.Hypocrites, like Oprah, used her personal grudges to judge MJ, You showed having an open wind, and applying WISDOM in how we live and relate with people, we will live a fruitful and fulfilled life. RIP MAYA.and once again ‘THANK’ you!!!

    1. I agree Bambi, I actually wrote Ms Angleou a letter of thanks for the beautiful poem she wrote for Michael, and for the kind of person , she was, that she wrote such beautiful words about the man , at a time , when the press was still being terrible to him.
      I remember Lester Holt sounding surprised and somewhat perplexed, when condolences came from Nelson Mandela.
      Im sure people like Barbara Walters , who was also in attendance and had in the past , critiqued MJ , took notice , she wrote a poem for Michael..
      People like Ms Angelou giving MJ his due, without being concerned about what the press thought , touched my heart.And I think , actually made them stand back a bit.
      I will never forget Oprahs “Remembering MJ ” show , with the ominous music and constant mention of allegations , no mention of all the good he did for the world , all his contributions , both artistically and charitable contributions, to the world…..I lost all respect for her, and never watched her again.

      1. That has always been something that puzzled me.

        Oprah considers Maya Angelou her mentor. When your mentor has the wisdom to see the true character of a man such as Michael Jackson and takes the time to honour him with such a gut-wrenching, powerfully emotional poem, you would think that might be an “ah hah” moment and you might possibly question your own narrow-minded view of that man.

        Anderson Cooper played a clip of an interview he had done with Ms. Angelou. What a magificent woman, so wise and compassionate. I did not realize that she had a role in “Roots”. It was at the beginning of the series before Kunta Kinte was stolen and sent to America.

        What a unique gift of expression she had. Another angel gone home.

        1. I have thought of that too..That Oprah thinks so highly of Ms Angelou.
          Ms Anjelou wouldnt pass judgement on MJ , even wrote that beautiful poem ..Yet when it comes to MJ , Oprah ignores her mentor , and turns her head .
          Did she ever write one to honor Oprah?

          Seems to me, that she did her best to trash MJ, and she had even got permission( Remembering Michael Jackson) to do that show from Katherine , I believe, and to me , it was so negative,He wasnt convicted of anything, he was actually vindicated .I thought it was an insult to his family and his memory.
          How many requests from fans , for her to present both sides, or have A Jones on or do a segment with Tom Mesereau, went ignored ?
          She has a huge staff, wouldnt take long for them to research what the real deal was with Sneddon and the few families he enabled.
          Bottom line is she is a business person , and though it better business to trash him.I think that backfired on her.
          Honestly I wouldnt cross the street to meet her.
          She had Katherine and the kids on , afterward and I saw a behind the scenes segment , where they were all excited to be going to Havenhurst
          She just disgusts me.
          At any rate, at one point in time , she was interviewing Ms Maya , and she was talking about how going to her house and Maya said if anyone is prejudice , against any group,be prepared to be asked to leave.
          That is advice Oprah really should have listened to .
          But I really cant picture Oprah making her unsubstantiated comments regarding MJ in the presence of her.
          I just dont think she would tolerate her ignorance.
          She was a very smart lady and didnt need Oprah for anything..I think she would have called her out.

          1. BTW I watched the behind the scenes segment on YOUTUBE, because I didnt want to add to her ratings..lol

          2. “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

            Oprah loves to repeat that quote from Maya Angelou. Oprah has shown us that as far as Michael Jackson is concerned, she is jealous, mean-spirited, and manipulative. I believe her. Her treatment of Michael and her exploitation of his family members, especially his children, undermines her years of effort to portray herself as a benevolent force for good.

            Oprah considers herself a protege of Quincy Jones. I wonder if his bitter jealousy of Michael has influenced her?

          3. Simba, I think you are right..She does consider herself close friend with Q , and Q has been spewing negative remarks about MJ for years,,That just feeds Oprahs ego.
            You are right, Oprah showed us who she really was..
            Maybe that is why her ratings fell off..
            I find that true with a lot of people , when it came to MJ, they showed their true, character by jumping on the bandwagon , and joining in a mob mentality , because they thought no one would notice.Strength in numbers driven by greed , envy , racism and revenge as Mark Geragos said..
            She is no different , I think she is actually worse because she pretends like so many , it is her concern for children , that prompted her garbage , but she just uses children to hide behind , with Mj because there was nothing else to muddy him up with.

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