Maya Angelou

About Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was one of the most influential people of our time. She held many roles throughout her life, including poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

She was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. She spent her growing up years in Arkansas, where she experienced racial discrimination. While life was not easy, especially since she became a single parent as a teenager, she used the tough parts of life as inspiration to write and touch the lives of others.

During the 1960's, Angelou spent time overseas. First she lived in Egypt. Then she moved to Ghana, where she taught at University of Ghana's School of Music of Drama. During this time she was the editor for the African Review, and she wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

While in Ghana, Maya Angelou met Malcom X. They came back to the United States in 1964, and Angelou was asked to help with African American Unity. After Malcom X was assassinated in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked her to be the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King was assassinated on Maya Angelou's birthday 1968, and for a while she stopped celebrating her birthday. Up until the death of King's wife, she sent her flowers on this day every year.

Maya Angelou is most known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970). It is the most popular of her autobiographies, and it has been successful internationally. It was the first best seller written by an African American woman. Her other two autobiographies are All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) and A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002).

One of her most famous poems, "On the Pulse of Morning", was recited at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. The recording of this poem won a Grammy Award in 1994 for "Best Spoken Word." Angelou also tried her hand at writing cookbooks. She published two between 2005 and 2010.

Thirty of Angelou's pieces made it onto the bestselling list.

In addition to writing, she was also a successful director and actress. She was the first African American woman to have a screenplay filmed. In 1972 the film Georgia, Georgia debuted. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Among other film pieces, she was an actress in Roots (1977).

During her lifetime, Angelou received more than 50 honorary degrees from various universities.

Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014 at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Her words and actions have been an inspiration to many people

References

    Poems by Maya Angelou

  • On Aging

    in Famous Family Poems

    When you see me sitting quietly,
    Like a sack left on the shelf,
    Don’t think I need your chattering.
    I’m listening to myself.

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    • Stories 0
    • Shares 159
    • Favorited 4
    • Votes 26
    • Rating 4.50
  • When Great Trees Fall

    in Famous Death Poems

    When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,

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    • Stories 1
    • Shares 906
    • Favorited 4
    • Votes 58
    • Rating 4.45
    Featured Shared Story

    I lost my partner of 17 years in 2018. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. The poem reminds me of him because he was like a great tree. He was my rock. I miss him so very much. I...

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  • Life Doesn't Frighten Me

    in Famous Children Poems

    Shadows on the wall
    Noises down the hall
    Life doesn't frighten me at all

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    • Stories 0
    • Shares 1859
    • Favorited 4
    • Votes 90
    • Rating 4.08
  • Alone

    in Famous Friendship Poems

    Lying, thinking
    Last night
    How to find my soul a home
    Where water is not thirsty

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    • Stories 1
    • Shares 2344
    • Favorited 40
    • Votes 414
    • Rating 4.39
    • Poem of the Week
    Featured Shared Story

    I strongly agree with Maya Angelou. Her poem reflects a timely theme. At any age a person might suffer due to loneliness, but worse in the old age. Then one needs physical as well as...

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  • Human Family

    in Famous Inspirational Poems

    I note the obvious differences
    in the human family.
    Some of us are serious,
    some thrive on comedy.

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    • Stories 8
    • Shares 7491
    • Favorited 52
    • Votes 1141
    • Rating 4.47
    • Poem of the Week
    Featured Shared Story

    I love this poem but had not heard it until it was played as part of an advertisement. I have no idea what the ad concerned, however, I had to have a copy of this poem. Wish Mr. Trump could...

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  • View All Poems by Maya Angelou

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