Actress. Artist. Civil rights activist. Feminist. Poet. Maya Angelou was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. She discussed topics that most people never would have, with open arms. She truly was a woman of many talents and her work will last throughout the ages. Maya Angelou. A true renaissance woman who will be remembered… if we make her works part of the American school curriculum.
On April 4th of 1928 Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. She was given the name “Maya” by her brother, Bailey. Both Maya and Bailey were sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas after her parents divorced.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” Angelou expressed. Maya Angelou was a famous American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.Throughout her lifetime Maya starred in movies, wrote many poems, autobiographies, and essay books. She never wanted to hold anything back, whatever was on her mind she always wanted to write it down or announce it out loud. She loved the feeling of being able to express herself. With the mindset Maya had she was always qualified to come up with things to write about.
T’keyah Bannister Mrs.Fabbi English 11 Honors 04 December 2015 Maya Angelou: Nonconformist American “I will not allow anybody to minimize my life, not anybody, not a living soul-- nobody, no lover, no mother, no son, no boss, no President, nobody.” - Maya Angelou Often labeled as a feminine writer, African- American autobiographer, historian, lecturer, journalist, activist, filmmaker, poet, singer, actor, and storyteller. Set out with many challenges which includes knowing many different languages from French, italian, spanish, Serbo-
American author Marguerite Annie Johnson Angelou, known for her poetry and autobiographies, was a controversial writer during the late 1900’s. Describing one’s past is maybe a difficult topic for certain people to share with others. Having millions of people read about it; however, is something not everyone will want to give. Unless, the reader receives an interest in the journey and ideas of the author. Angelou lived through a period in the late 1900’s where segregation was harsh for African-Americans.
When thinking of a historical figure, many imagine a president, king, or general that lead a country to greatness, but never realized some could be the ones who influence the minds of society. Although not thought of as anything, writers and poets hold the key to shaping the society’s mindset without even knowing it. Being a civil rights activist, social activist, and role model for women makes Maya Angelou a historical figure who has made a huge impact in American society and in American history.
III. a. Maya Angelou was an avid writer, speaker, activist and teacher. As a result of the many hardships that she suffered while growing up as a poor black woman in the south she has used her own experiences as the subject matter of her written work. In doing this she effectively shows how she was able to overcome her personal obstacles. Her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) tells the story of her life and how she overcame and moved forward triumphantly in spite of her circumstances.
“Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.” (Online - White House). This memorial statement, by Barack Obama in 2014, encompasses how many felt towards Maya Angelou, one of the most influential writers and voices of her generation. Over the course of her lifetime, Maya Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees and received the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Angelou’s personal admiration and self-love that is reflected in her poetic works, specifically, “Phenomenal Woman,” is credited to the overcoming of her traumatic childhood and her work in activism.
Revolution can manifest itself in many forms, through a person, an action, or even a piece of literature; what all these forms share is the recognition of what came before them is not enough. Often combated by those benefiting from the current state of affairs, the dark side of revolution must be considered when evaluating the risk a revolutionary takes in going against the crowd. Artists Ntozake Shange, Amiri Baraka, and Maya Angelou can all be considered revolutionaries in their own right for the marked changes they caused with their contributions. These African-American creators recognized that the world surrounding them did not fit the way each perceived it should be, and used their talents to comment on the injustice they observed
Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1931, after her parents’ divorce, Angelou and her older brother, Bailey, moved to Stamps Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, and her crippled uncle, Willie. Their family resided in the living quarters attached to the back of the small store that they owned. As a young African American girl, Angelou experienced harsh racism and discrimination while in Stamps (Angelou, Maya).
Angelou’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and her achievements as an activist were remarkable. While these achievements seem to be enough to last a lifetime, the Civil Rights Movement was only the beginning for Angelou. Angelou worked as an outspoken Civil Rights activist during the movement. But even after the Civil Rights Movement had ended, she continued to be a voice of humanity, speaking out against anything that harmed the human spirit. Angelou moved on to influence American society as a whole, from the 1970’s to the day she died, May 28, 2014. She was a multi-talented person as Toni Morrison, a friend and contemporary of Angelou, expressed: “She had 19 talents and used 10. And she was a real original.” (qtd, in Sherwell, 2014).
The German philosopher Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us, make us stronger”, and in many instances this is exactly the case. In most every instance of tragedy or hardship, the people affected must either yield to or rise above their situation, and in rising above, develop or display extraordinary and exemplary traits uniquely fitted to dealing with that situation. As a result, without adversity, these talents would be left unused. There are instances in which people crack under the pressure or sink to the expectations of their situation, but, depending on the character of the person involved, they may take the situation and use it to better themselves. It is a unique opportunity to utilize or develop traits that often remain
Life is a journey that is challenging for many people. As a result, many do not live up to their full potential. Nevertheless, there are always few distinguished people in every generation who master the art of living better than everyone else. Such individuals emerge as icons of the society and leave phenomenal legacies. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Maya Angelou are outstanding souls who made their communities and the world a better place.