Who’s Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, author and civil rights activist. She was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1928 and began writing at an early age, publishing her first poem at the age of 16. Over the course of her career, she published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows stretching back to the 1970s. Maya Angelou’s works focused on the struggle and triumph of being black in America and the power of resilience, hope and spiritual faith. Her most well-known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, has become a cornerstone of literature and pop culture, exploring her upbringing in the deep South and her resilience in the face of some of the harshest conditions.

During her lifetime, Angelou worked with some of the most influential people in the world, including President Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and President Jimmy Carter, who in 2011 bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon her. Angelou also earned three Grammys for her voice work and readings of her poetry and was the only poet to read a poem at a presidential inauguration until Richard Blanco in 2013. Angelou’s writing and activism has touched and changed countless lives, as ladies continue to write and chisel a path for themselves.

Her writing dealt with issues of identity, racism and femininity, showing a deep empathy for the human condition and the shared experience of suffering. Her work pointed a way towards sweeping political and social change, no matter how small the step. This inspired countless people and organizations to call on her to speak, debate or recite her work. Angelou often collaborated with other activists, astronauts and celebrities to bring her messages of hope and courage.

Angelou has been a major influence throughout the African-American community. She used her platform to amplify the ongoing conversation about race and social justice, providing a voice and platform to minority communities. Her work has been hailed by everyone from celebrities to presidents, and her commitment to civil rights was unmatched. Angelou was a cultural icon and a defining figure throughout the 20th century, known for her determined spirit and strength in the face of adversity.

Although Maya Angelou passed away in 2014, her works and her spirit have lived on. After her death, her estate donated over ten thousand items to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, where her personal library and papers are now accessible to the public. Her legacy has since been featured in exhibitions, addressing the racial and economic divide that still exists in the U.S. This impactful legacy will forever remain as a part of American history.

Maya Angelou’s Works

Maya Angelou’s works were immensely influential. She wrote numerous autobiographies throughout her career. Her first publication was the seven volume autobiography series, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was widely successful and is now considered a classic. Her other works were And Still I Rise, Shaker, Why Don’t Ya Sing?, A Brave and Startling Truth and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes. Also, she was the author of several books of poetry including ‘Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Die’ and ‘The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.’

Additionally, Angelou was the first black woman to write for a major television series, with the creation of her 1981 show, ‘Griot’. She also wrote the teleplay for a ten-part mini-series, ‘Blues for an Alabama Sky’. Additionally, Angelou wrote screenplays such as ‘Georgia, Georgia.’ Angelou’s plays have included productions such as ‘Cabaret for Freedom’, ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ and ‘And Still I Rise’.

In her later career, Angelou received numerous honorary degrees and awards. In 2011, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also an advisory board member of the Martin Luther King Center and was honored by Queen Elizabeth with the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Angelou was also appointed to the National Commission on the Observation of Human Rights.

Maya Angelou’s Life

Maya Angelou was born on March 4, 1928, in Saint Louis, Missouri. As a child, she suffered deep emotional scars from her father’s abandonment and her rape at the age of eight. These experiences game her the strength and courage to discuss and explore issues of racism, sexism and identity in her writings. Angelou moved to California to become a single mother at seventeen, giving birth to her son, Guy. Given her challenging childhood and adolescence, Angelou’s ability to move past trauma and eventually become one of the most renowned poets and authors in history is a testament to her strength and courage.

Inspired by a meeting with a Harlem woman, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, at an important conference of the African-American artists in 1951, Angelou moved to Cairo, then Accra and later to New York, where she worked with the Harlem Writers Guild in the 60s. Later she joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’ in which she worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., resulting in ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing’.

In the 70s Angelou became an active lecturer at Wake Forest University and the University of Louisville, where she taught courses on race, politics and culture. Here Angelou was able to expand her influence on a broader audience, illustrating that one should never limit themselves, but strive to have strong sense of self-identity and resilience, which was especially important during the height of the civil rights movement.

Angelou was a powerful, deeply thoughtful and creative public intellectual, human rights activist and a thought leader of the 20th century. She utilized her platform to advocate for social and political change, making her a prominent figure in inspiring generations of African-American girls and women to live their dreams.

Impact and Legacy

Maya Angelou’s life and work has left a lasting impact in many ways. Her works were instrumental in inspiring generations of African-American girls and women to live their dreams. Her writings have become timeless and have been used as staple pieces in schools and universities around the world. She spoke often about and fought against the oppression of black Americans during the Civil Rights movement and her passion for justice was an inspiration for many.

Angelou’s influence can still be felt by many today. Her influence on Oprah Winfrey and other talented people in the industry has been monumental. From songs, documentaries, tributes and magazine covers, to statues and university buildings, her name and words are spread around the world. A number of quotes by her can be found displayed in many schools, churches and organizations throughout our nation. She left behind a large body of work that is still being studied today.

In addition, legislative reforms were also a product of her work, as she was an outspoken critic of the unjust. Since her death, numerous auctions and awards have been created in her honor to further her work and continue to spread her memory in meaningful ways. Her works have filled both literature and public libraries around the world, raising awareness of the racial and political oppression of African-American people.

Maya Angelou’s Legacy and Outlook

The legacy of Maya Angelou is one of perseverance, strength and courage in the face of adversity. She has left a lasting impact on generations of black women and people of color, inspiring them to rise above the challenges of racism and oppression and to live a life of beauty and empowerment. Her legacy stands for strength, empowerment and self-love, a spirit that has endured even after her passing. Angelou’s influence ran far and wide and she embodied hope through her tireless work and her efforts to promote justice.

Angelou also worked to raise awareness of the importance of education and the power of the mind to push back against inequality and racism. She believed that education was the key to progress and equality and that knowledge was the gateway to social justice, which is why she was highly revered by so many. As she once said, “Education is our most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Maya Angelou’s vibrant and expansive memory and her ever-encouraging message will forever be remembered and upheld. Her poetic and effective use of words were able to reach the hearts and minds of people from all races and backgrounds, piquing an awareness of racial and political inequalities in our society.

Final Thoughts

Maya Angelou passed away in 2014, however, her spirit and impact still remain. Her books, poems and lectures remain timeless and have become staples in academics and literature. She was a powerful voice in the fight for civil rights, equal rights and justice for the oppressed. Angelou’s works dealt with issues of identity, racism and femininity, showing a deep empathy for the human condition and the shared experience of suffering. She left behind a large body of work that is still being studied today and her legacy will forever be remembered in history.

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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