An Author, Civil Rights Activist, Poet, Dancer, Actress, Singer and Inspiration

Maya Angelou in 2008 photo taken by Gerald Herbert

"Multi-talented barely seems to cover the depth and breadth of Maya Angelou's accomplishments. She was an author, actress, screenwriter, dancer and poet" (Bio). Maya Angelou died at 86, after living a life full of oppression, liberty, sadness, joy, pain and relief. She was born April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents separated and she and her siblings went to live with their grandmother. She experienced the segregation and oppression of the Jim Crow Laws. On top of being an African American women in the 1900's she was abused by her mothers boyfriend when she was seven. When he was beaten to death by a mob after she told her story she blamed her voice. She later had a son, Guy Johnson, when she was 17. Once she was able to she went to Egypt and Ghana, where she worked as a newspaper editor. Shortly after Martin Luther King's assassination on her 40 birthday she published her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya Angelou's book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings became the first nonfiction best-seller written by an African American woman. This book was bold and daring in 1969 because it talked about many things people didn't want to talk about.

Maya Anglou was not only an incredibly influential person she had influential friends. She was close friends with Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Junior. "One of Angelou's most famous works is the poem "On the Pulse of Morning," which she wrote especially for and recited at President Bill Clinton's inaugural ceremony in January 1993—marking the first inaugural recitation since 1961, when Robert Frost delivered his poem "The Gift Outright" at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration" (Bio). Her writings influenced many people in the 1970's including Barack Obama's mother and in Maya's honor she named his sister Maya.

"Angelou's legacy is twofold. She leaves behind a body of important artistic work that influenced several generations. But the 86-year-old was praised by those who knew her as a good person, a woman who pushed for justice and education and equality." ( Maya Angelou was nominated for a Tony and won three Grammy awards, for her writings and performances in plays. She would write, dance and sing to find her freedom in her oppression. From the time she was born the odds were stacked against her, but through perservence she touched the hearts of many and inspired others to do great things. Fighting her own battles along the way.


"Maya Angelou." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

Leopold, Todd, Ashley Fantz, Moni Basu, and Faith Karimi. "Legendary Author Maya      Angelou Dies at Age 86." CNN. Cable News Network, 19 June 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.

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