Annie Henderson Was ‘The Greatest Person’ Maya Angelou Ever Met

maya angelou at clinton inauguration
Alyssa Guzik
April 18, 2024

She'd been abandoned as a toddler. At least, that's how it felt. How else could it feel when your mother drops you and your brother off at grandma's house and doesn't return?  But that little girl - who grew up to become Maya Angelou - was far from alone. She had a guardian angel.

Annie "Momma" Henderson took her grandbabies in. She knew two things for sure: she'd always keep them safe and raise them to know they had the power to change things they didn’t like.

After a young Angelou was raped, it was Momma who made sure she felt safe enough to speak up for herself. And when Angelou chose to silence her voice and stop speaking altogether, Momma's soft words of wisdom and unwavering support sustained her.

In those six years of silence, Momma gave Angelou the wisdom, love, and safety the child desperately needed. Momma tended to and nurtured her granddaughter, knowing that one day her voice would burst forth with a vengeance.

Through this traumatic childhood, Annie Henderson gave her granddaughter a solid foundation of safety, love, strength, and wisdom. Without her grandmother's guiding presence, the child who became Maya Angelou may have been lost to the shadows of despair. Our love and care for one another is powerful.