Maya Angelou – Women’s History Month

“I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.” -Maya Angelou

“I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.” -Maya Angelou

Lily Brandon, Assistant Editor

Maya Angelou was an American writer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her poem “Still I Rise,” in which she writes about confidence and self esteem as a Black woman living in an oppressive world. She has received more than 50 honorary degrees for her writing. 

 

Maya (Marguerite) Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. At the age of seven, she was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. (His surname was Freeman.) Freeman was convicted, but only jailed for one day. Four days after his release, Freeman was murdered, causing Angelou to become mute for nearly five years. “And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone,” Angelou said. According to Marcia Ann Gillespe and others, (authors of a biography about Maya Angelou,) that during this period of silence, Angelou discovered her love of books and poetry. Angelou later attended the California Labor School. 

 

In the early 60’s, Angelou became close friends with Malcolm X, and in 1965, she helped him create a new civil rights organization, The Organization of Afro -American Unity. Later, in 1968, Angelou was asked by Martin Luther King to organize a march.

 

In 1969, Angelou released her first book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” which gained critical acclaim and a National Book Award Nomination. At the 1993 inauguration of Bill Clinton, Angelou recited her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” and in 2011, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.