05/30/2014 12:12 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2014

Show Me Dr. Angelou

Billions of people live on this planet, yet few depart it having truly inspired millions and leaving behind a positive change. Maya Angelou was one of those few. I join the rest of the world as we spend the coming days celebrating her life and many accomplishments.

It's a humbling reflection and honor to say I share the same hometown with Dr. Angelou. We are both natives of St. Louis, Missouri, and I find it fitting that she was born in the Show-Me state. How appropriate for a beloved woman whose lifelong work encompassed showing the world what it means to stand up for what you believe and showing us all how to seek inner peace.

Dr. Angelou had an inimitable and remarkable way of showing us what it means to overcome adversity to advocate for others. Her compassionate and creative way of sharing a significant message inspires me and millions around the world. There is no denying the words of Maya Angelou. They cannot be ignored. She had an unmatched ability to be on-point and connect directly with one's soul. When you present your work at that level and with that depth of spiritual connection, the results are transforming for those who consume it.

Dr. Angelou showed generations how to come together for one purpose and inspired millions with powerful literary work. She didn't just put the words on paper. She lived them. She breathed them. She preserved them for generations to come. Few people make that type of impact, but through her actions and life, Maya Angelou showed us how it's done. She showed us how to leave a legacy.

As a mother, civil rights activist and advocate for special needs children, I'm constantly inspired by Dr. Angelou's teachings. She overcame adversity to inspire millions. A teen mom who dropped out of high school and never graduated from college, she held an odd assortment of jobs throughout her life -- dancer, writer, director, actor, even the first African-American female cable car operator in San Francisco -- seemingly lost at times, wandering from career to career in search of herself until she found her ultimate passion.

A defender of black culture, she shared the details of her unconventional path and opened up her personal life story to encourage others. One of the many things she taught us: You don't have to start with a silver spoon to end up a friend of the President of the United States, and you don't have to have a formal education to become the most revered woman of the 21st century.

Though no longer physically present, Maya Angelou continues to show us what it means to be an extraordinary human being. I'm grateful for the many gifts and treasures she's left behind. As we mourn the loss of this incredible woman, we'll share quote after quote from her work and her life across social media channels and the Internet. It's a fitting way to honor such a literary genius.

Thank you, Maya Angelou, for your inspiring words, but also for showing us how to celebrate one's passion, whether through dance, prose, music, teaching or speaking about one's principles. You have shown an entire planet what it means to be a true soul and, as a fellow Missourian, I hope you will continue to show me for the rest of my days.