Oprah Winfrey is celebrating her longtime friend, the late Maya Angelou, on what would have been her 95th birthday.
On April 4, the media mogul penned a tender tribute to the late memoirist and poet with a post on Instagram, describing their decades-long friendship and the life lessons Angelou has taught her.
In her post — which featured a warm image of the two female pioneers smiling alongside each other — Winfrey described what it was like to grow up memorizing Angelou’s poems before later hearing essential knowledge straight from the source herself.
“Maya would have been 95 today—and I would be throwing her a BIG party, as I did every 5th year since she turned 60,” Winfrey’s caption began. “I grew up reading her insightful books and memorizing her poems. When I finally got to meet her in my late 20s, she made me a meal and read me Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry.”
“From that point on, I sat at her table and listened to her words of wisdom for years,” Winfrey continued.
Winfrey then went on to share the pearls of wisdom that left a lasting impression on her, including quotes such as:
“When people tell you who they are, believe them— the FIRST time!"
“When you know better, you do better.”
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
Winfrey also reflected on how Angelou’s counsel has remained a beacon of light even in the years since her death in 2014.
“I value those gifts to me even more now that she’s gone,” Winfrey wrote towards the end of her post. “But more importantly, I still feel her everywhere. In the stillness, in conversations, in sunrises and sunsets, her Spirit abides with me, greeting me as she always did ‘Hello, you darling girl.’”
Angelou, who died at the age of 86, became world-renowned for her poetry and books — many of which addressed racism, Black culture, travel and identity — including her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” In 2014 soon after Angelou's death, Winfrey wrote an essay about their relationship and described the author as the person she learned more from than anyone else.
“Her greatest lesson — besides her gems of insight and inspiration — is the way she has approached aging with such acceptance and assurance,” Winfrey wrote at the time. “Several years ago, when I asked her what it was like to turn 80, she said, “Baaaby, the 80s are hot! You want to try and make it there if you can.”