What Awards Did Maya Angelou Receive

Maya Angelou was an iconic American poet and writer who won several awards in her lifetime. She was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In recognition of her many accomplishments in the arts, academics, and social activism, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Below is an overview of some of the most prestigious awards Maya Angelou received throughout her lifetime.

National Book Award

Maya Angelou was the first African American and first woman to receive the National Book Award for her 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This book is widely credited for breaking open the field of autobiography and poetry to African American women authors. For this book, and for 17 other literary achievements, Angelou was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Emmy Award

In 1972, Angelou received her first Emmy award for her screenplay, “Georgia, Georgia.” This was the first prime-time drama written by an African American woman to be aired on US television. Angelou went on to author several more screenplays, and received two more Emmy awards for them.

Grammy Award

In 1993, Angelou won the Best Spoken Word Album Grammy Award for her audio recording of her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning.” This poem was commissioned for President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993, making Angelou the first poet to be in this role since Robert Frost in 1961.

Kennedy Center Honors

Angelou was the first African American woman to be honored by the Kennedy Center Honors. This bi-annual award celebrates artists and performers who have made significant contributions to the world of American culture. Angelou was a celebrated poet and writer, and she was especially well-known for her inspiring words and socially conscious writing.

Honorary Degrees

Angelou received more than 50 honorary degrees from various universities, including Columbia University and Harvard University. She was even given an honorary degree from President Barack Obama’s alma mater, Occidental College, in 2009. During these ceremonies, Angelou’s influence on culture and the arts were celebrated and recognized.

Broadcast Music, Inc. Icon Award

In 2007, Angelou was awarded the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Icon Award. This award honors songwriters and composers whose music has profoundly impacted radio and television broadcasts. Her music and unique writing style have certainly made a lasting impact on the world.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011. This is the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States, and Angelou was recognized for her lifelong commitment to social justice, education, and art. The five-minute-long ceremony was held in the White House East wing, and included a touching poem written for Angelou by Obama.

Academy of American Poets Fellowship

In 2005, Angelou received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which is awarded annually to one poet for their commitment to their writing and their impact on the culture. In addition to this award, Angelou received several other fellowships over the years, including ones from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Dramatists Guild High Honor Award

The Dramatists Guild High Honor Award was awarded to Angelou in 2005. This award celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to the theatre. Angelou’s plays, such as her 1977 musical, “Look Away” and her 1978 play, “And Still I Rise,” have been widely acclaimed and performed throughout the United States.

Spingarn Medal

In 1975, Angelou was awarded the Spingarn Medal, which is given to an African American each year who has made an outstanding contribution to the culture. The NAACP “works to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination.” The medal was established to honor African Americans who have made significant contributions to the civil rights movement.

National Medal of Arts

In 2000, Angelou was presented with the National Medal of Arts. This award is given annually to individuals who have “made extraordinary contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts.” Angelou was honored for her writing, her activism, and her inspiring words.

Rhodes Achievement Award

Angelou was honored with the Rhodes Achievement Award in 2006. This award celebrates those who have “overcome personal or societal challenges to achieve success.” The award is given to those who demonstrate determination, resilience, and lasting courage. Angelou certainly exemplified all of these qualities.

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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