How Did Maya Angelou Became A Civil Rights Activist

Maya Angelou is well-known for her acclaimed autobiographies and her impressive poetry. However, many might not know what motivated her to become an influential civil rights activist. In the aftermath of World War II and the emergence of the civil rights movement, Angelou was exposed to the harsh realities of racism and decided to take her talents and experiences to contribute to the movement.

Born in Missouri in 1928, Angelou’s formative years were spent in a blend of poverty and stability. Growing up in the Jim Crow South taught her many lessons about racism, experiences that influenced her decision to become a civil rights activist. After graduating from high school, Angelou attended San Francisco University on scholarship, where she was exposed to a wider range of ideas about activism. As a student, she joined the Harlem Writers Club. There, she engaged with other students and budding authors to discuss the civil rights movement.

The Harlem Writers Club made a big impact on Angelou’s thinking, and soon she found herself involved in civil rights protests against the Vietnam War and in favor of desegregation. At the same time, she was focusing on her writing and poetry. Her work during these early years in the civil rights movement helped her focus her political energies and bolster her influence in civil rights circles.

Angelou also worked as a journalist, travelling to some of the key locations of the civil rights movement. In 1963, she worked as a consultant for a film about Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1965, she organized voter registration drives among African-Americans. In 1967, Angelou moved to Egypt to work with a Peace Corps, writing and producing plays that highlighted the civil rights movement and the issues of racial inequality in the U.S.

Throughout the 1960s and beyond, Angelou’s work continued to reflect her commitment to the civil rights movement. She wrote more books, was a part of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and a prominent speaker at civil rights rallies. Her writings and speeches, in addition to her activism, helped put the struggle of African-Americans at the forefront of American consciousness.

Angelou’s influence extended beyond the civil rights movement, but her commitment to the struggle for racial justice and equality has made a lasting impression. Her career as a civil rights activist was as diverse and inspiring as her writing, and her legacy lives on through her powerful words.

Early Life

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in the Jim Crow South. This meant she experienced racism from a young age, and this experience had a lasting impact on her views. After graduating from high school, Angelou had the opportunity to attend San Francisco State University on a scholarship. During this time, she was exposed to a variety of ideas about activism, and her activism began to take shape as she joined the Harlem Writers Club.

Her experience in the Harlem Writers Club opened her eyes to the possibilities of political action, and soon she moved beyond the literary and was participating in protests against the Vietnam war, and in favor of desegregation. Her involvement in the civil rights movement opened up many more opportunities for Angelou.

Moreover, the knowledge and understanding she gained about the Jim Crow South informed her writing for the rest of her life. Her personal reflections and observations about racism were translated into stories that encouraged readers to share in her experience, and to view racism for the wrong that it was.

Angelou’s commitment to the civil rights movement was further developed when she moved to Cairo in 1967 to work with a Peace Corps. During this period, she wrote and produced plays that highlighted the civil rights movement and the fight against racial inequality in the US.

In this early period of her activism, Angelou learned the power of her words and of her art when it came to the civil rights movement. Her works served as both a commentary and a rallying cry, and she became an important voice of the movement.

Journalism and NAACP

In addition to her writing, Angelou also played an important role in the civil rights movement through her work as a journalist. She traveled throughout America to document the civil rights struggle, and even worked as a consultant for a film about Martin Luther King Jr.

She was also a part of the NAACP, helping to organize voter registration drives among African-Americans. Here, she could fully apply her talents and help shape the civil rights movement in concrete ways, supporting black voters and making sure their voices were heard. This commitment to changing the nation’s legal system was as important as her writing in promoting civil rights.

Moreover, Angelou used her platform to speak her truth, even in the face of criticism. During the 1970s, when her works were not as popular, Angelou still spoke out on the major issues of the day in an effort to shift the public’s attention to the civil rights movement. This was a major risk, but one that she was willing to take and fight for.

Angelou’s career as a journalist and her involvement in the NAACP has served to inspire generations of civil rights activists and to remind us that progress is possible if you are willing to stand up for justice. This commitment to making a change in her lifetime, however small, has allowed Angelou to be remembered as a civil rights icon today.

Performing Arts and Education

In addition to her work as a journalist, Angelou’s talents as a performer also facilitated her involvement in the civil rights movement. She acted in plays and movies, and she even performed at fundraisers and rallies. Her performances, in addition to her writing, spoke to a larger audience of the injustices of racism and showed the power of the arts to create social change.

Angelou also utilized her influence to mentor younger generations of activists. As a successful writer, she was able to teach younger activists about the power of words and help them craft their own stories, as well as to understand the injustices of the past. In addition, she was also a vocal advocate of education, encouraging younger generations to value books, learn more history of the civil rights movement, and understand its importance.

Angelou’s commitment to education was a major part of her involvement in the civil rights movement. Not only did it help to enlighten younger generations, but it also served as a reminder of the many injustices of the Jim Crow South and the progress that still must be made if we are to achieve true social justice.

Angelou sought to use her platform to educate others on civil rights so that they would become as passionate about the struggle as she was. In doing so, she sought to create a lasting impact and leave behind a legacy of understanding and activism.


At the heart of Angelou’s legacy is her work as a civil rights activist. She was a true trailblazer, and her commitment to the movement has had a lasting impact on those who followed. Her writings, speeches, performances, and her activism have been an inspiration to generations of activists and have encouraged them to keep fighting for racial justice and equality.

Moreover, Angelou’s legacy is also her commitment to education and her reminder to younger generations of the importance of understanding the civil rights movement. Her encouragement for young people to read, learn about history, and strive for understanding has been a major legacy of her legacy.

Maya Angelou is remembered as a writer, poet, and civil rights icon. Her commitment to the struggle for justice and equality has been an inspiration to many and has helped to shape the current understanding of the civil rights movement. Her legacy will live on through her powerful words and her example of courage and conviction.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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