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Upon learning of Dr. Maya Angelou’s passing on May 28, Oprah Winfrey released a statement that referred to the poet, author and legend as “the rainbow in my clouds.” The touching sentiment is one that Dr. Angelou herself had discussed during her 2011 appearance on “Oprah’s Master Class.”
During that interview, Dr. Angelou explained where she first heard the “rainbow in the clouds” metaphor, which comes from a 19th-century African-American song popularly known as “God Put A Rainbow in the Clouds.” In the above video from the episode, Dr. Angelou sang the powerful lyric that resonated so strongly with her.
When it looks like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.
“Imagine!” Dr. Angelou marveled. “I’ve had so many rainbows in my clouds. I had a lot of clouds, but I had so many rainbows.”
Dr. Angelou said she always carried these “rainbows” with her to her speaking and teaching engagements, whether in a large venue or intimate classroom. “I bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me,” she said. “Black, white, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American, gay, straight, everybody. I said, ‘Come on with me. I’m going on the stage. Come with me. I need you now.’”
Whether her “rainbows” were living or had long since passed, Dr. Angelou said she always felt and drew strength from their support. “I don’t ever feel I have no help,” she said. “I had rainbows in my clouds.”
She also encouraged people to apply the “rainbow in the clouds” philosophy to their own lives.
“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God — if they call God at all,” she chuckled. “I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”
In the video below, OWN Executive Producers Jon Sinclair and Corny Koehl join HuffPost Live to share their memories of Dr. Angelou.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s appearance on “Oprah’s Master Class” re-airs this Sunday, June 1, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN, following a day of encore presentations honoring the late writer, poet, teacher and activist.

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