Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Inspirational Women Things to know about Maya Angelou

1 reply, 2 voices Last updated by Afshan Iqbal 2 years, 5 months ago
  • 038 deepika Singh

    Maya Angelou was a woman of many talents- an author, a poet, a civil right activists, a dancer, an actor– she is certainly impossible to define. Born in St. Louis Missouri in 1928, her parents divorced when she was three and along with her brother, she went to live with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

    As a child Angelou formed a strong bond with her brother, who gave her the nickname ‘Maya’. On being molested at the age of seven by her mother’s boyfriend, she told about this to her brother and testified against the man in court. But after a few days, the attacker turned up dead. Believing her words had killed the man she stopped speaking and fell completely mute for five and a half years. In the absence of speech, Maya Angelou fed her love of words with literature- Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Charles Dickens were among the great authors who filled her void.

    In 1940, Maya along with her brother moved to San Francisco, where she won a scholarship to study dance and drama in California. At the age sixteen, after she quit high school to become San Francisco’s first African- American cable car operator, she got pregnant with a boy. In order to earn and look after her son, she went to San Diego, worked as a night club waitress and danced in the strip club, where much to her luck, she was discovered by a theatre group.

    Throughout her 50’s, Maya was a Calypso Dancer which inspired her first and last studio album ‘Miss Calypso’, which was released in 1957.
    During her 60’s, Maya Angelou was very invested in the civil rights movement and did not miss a chance to speak about inequality faced by black people in America.

    Later Maya Angelou served as a freelance writer and editor in Egypt and Ghana and upon returning to the US, she was encouraged to share the details of her adventurous life in a book. Initially she was hesitant, but in 1969, she published her first autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’. Maya’s boundless creativity emerged from the stage to the page and soon she conquered the screen too. In 1972, her original screenplay ‘Georgia, Georgia’ became the first screenplay written by an African- American woman to be produced as a movie.
    Maya published seven autobiography in total, each explaining the distinct chapters of her life. She also won the Grammy Award for the best spoken word recording of ‘Phenomenal Women’, ‘On The Pulse Of Morning’ and ‘A Song Flung Up To Heaven’.
    On February 15, 2011 America’s former president Barack Obama honoured, Maya Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    On May 28, 2014 she passed away in her home in Winston- Salem, North Carolina.

    Maya Angelou emerged from prostitution and the life of a Madam to become a world- renowned poet, historic filmmaker and phenomenal inspiration for Black women. Her words touched and inspired millions of people across the world.

    Afshan Iqbal
    Not Helpful

    Poet, dancer, singer, activist, and scholar Maya Angelou was a world-famous author. She had a unique style of writing and had interpersonal intelligence. She used her words to convey the topics that people considered taboos. She had a spark to change the world and she was able to in a way make a great impact through her writings. Angelou was a prominent voice of feminism and used to empower women as much as she could, she also stood up against racism. Her writings explore the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression. She wrote poems that made an impact and are taught to children because of the great message they carry. For example, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Still I Rise, Phenomenal Woman, etc. Angelou was fluent in six languages and became the First African American female member of the Directors Guild of America. She also won three Grammy awards and was nominated for a Tony Award. Maya Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. She also became the First Black Woman to Appear in the U.S. Quarter. Angelou died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she had served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982. She was eighty-sixed years old. Maya Angelou was recognized for her remarkable and inspiring career and is considered one of the best poets/writers of our times.

    “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ― Maya Angelou

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