Maya Angelou


Born Marguerite Johnson, (1928-2014) was a renownedAmerican author, playwright, scriptwriter, film producer, poet, andcivil rights activist. Her parents separated when she was threeyears old and had to live with her paternal grandmother for fouryears. After the four years, she was taken to her mother VivianBaxter’s residence together with her brother Bailey. When she waseight years old, “One spring morning, when both Bailey and VivianBaxter were not home, Freeman raped eight year old Marguerite”(Agins, 2011, 14). Freeman was her mother’sboyfriend. He threatened the young Marguerite that if she told anyoneabout the rape incidence he would kill her brother Barley. Unable toconceal her suffering, Angelou informed her older brother about howshe was raped by Freeman. The man was imprisoned for a year after hewas found guilty of sexually abusing and raping Maya. When Freemanwas released from prison, he was murdered four days later. The deathof Freeman traumatized as she believed that shecontributed to his murder as she thought that disclosing the rapeincident led to his death. For five years, became mutefollowing Freeman’s murder(Agins, D. B. (2011). This is the period when shestarted appreciating literature as she took much of her time reading.

The Accomplishment of

Throughout her career she managed to write numerous collections ofessays, poetry, plays, television shows, and movies. One of her worksthat has achieved universal recognition is the autobiographycollection titled, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) inwhich she narrates about her life from birth till she was 17 yearsold. Her other autobiographies include Mom &amp Me &amp Mom(2013), Letter to my Daughter (2008), Gather Together in MyName (1974), The Heart of a Woman (1981) and All God’sChildren Need Travelling Shoes (1986). Apart fromautobiographies, she wrote several poetries which include Wouldn’tTake Nothing for My Journey Now (1993) Oh Pray My Wings areGona Fit Me Well(1975), I Shall Not Be Moved(1990) andJust Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971)(Poetry Foundation. (2016).

Before becoming a writer and a poet, held different lowprofile jobs. For example, she once worked as a sex worker, fry cook,and a night club performer. In 1959, was requested byDr. Martin Luther King Jr. to become the coordinator for the SouthernChristian Leadership Conference. Between 1961 and 1962, she worked asthe associate editor of the Arab Observer that had its headquartersin Cairo Egypt. From 1964 to 1966, Angelou was a feature editor of anewspaper named African Review in Ghana(Agins, 2011). At the time of her death, which occurredon May 28, 2014, Angelou was a professor at Wake Forest Universitywhere she taught American studies. She died at age 86.

The significance of to women’s history

First, Mary Angelou was the first African-American woman director inHollywood. She wrote, directed, produced and starred in many stage,television shows, and film. Some of her works while in Hollywoodinclude the film Georgia, Georgia, and Three Way Choice.Apart from films, May Angelou produced numerous award-winningdocumentaries such as Afro-Americans in the Arts(Poetry Foundation. 2016). .

Besides being the first African-American woman director in Hollywood, is a renowned activist. After she had been performing atdifferent clubs and events, Maya decided to quit her singing careeras she “wanted her work to make life better for African Americans”(Agins, 2011, 42). Before she could finally quitsinging she agreed to perform at the renowned Apollo Theater. Mayaended her performance by calling upon her audience to join her in thefight against racial injustice. She did this by ending theperformance with a Ballard titled “Uhuru” which is anAfrican name that means freedom (Agins,2011)

Mary Angelou is a depiction of women’s role in the fight forAfrican American liberations. Her fight for the Rights of the blackstarted when she took the job at the Arab Observer. She once met theSouth Africa former President Nelson Mandela when he was fightingagainst Apartheid. In Accra, was part of an expatriategroup that includes renowned civil rights movement leaders such asW.E.B Du Bois. In the American Civil Rights Movement, worked alongside individuals such as Malcolm X. For example, togetherwith Malcolm X, organized African Americans to unite inorder to fights for their rights. Her entrance into the Americancivil right movement was inspired by Dr King’s speech at a churchin Harlem(Agins, 2011). Together with actors such as GodfreyMacArthur she organized a huge fund-raising event for the SouthernChristian Leadership Conference. played a huge role inthe civil right movement in America by organizing major events thatraised enough funds o finance African American rebellion against JimCrow’s brutality(Agins, D. B. (2011).In 1968, she helped King’sorganize the Poor People’s March in Memphis Tennessee. This is theevent that resulted in the shooting of King in the day that was alsoAngelou’s 40th birthday. She was traumatized by theassassination of Dr. King whom she considered her mentor on theissues of fighting for rights of the oppressed.Her poem “StillI Rise” was read by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inauguration.The poem speaks about the endurances of the human spirit even whenfaced by the harshest social and personal obstacles(Hagen, L. B. (2014).&nbsp.

Apart from her contribution to the end of racial segregation inAmerica and some parts of Africa, fought for the rightsof African American women through her works. The major themes thatdominated most Angelou’s works include the human spirit, thestrength of women, and the black beauty. In most of her poems,Angelou concentrated on depicting the plight of blacks in Americansince the time of their enslavement to the civil right movement in1960. In her poem Woman Work Angelou prints her thoughts onher reader’s mind about what it means to be a woman(Hagen, 2014). Much of Angelou’s works was areflection of her life as well as that of her fellow AfricanAmericans. For example, Born That Way narrates about herencounter with sexual abuse as well as her former job as aprostitute. Seven Women’s Blessed, Phenomenal Woman andWoman Work deal with the issues affecting women. In her poem,A Kind of Love Some Say, Mary Angelou explores the theme ofdomestic abuse and wife-beating. On the other hand, the theme ofchild abuse is central to Angelou’s poem “TO Beat the ChildWas Bad Enough(Hagen, 2014). In her fight for women’s right, MayaAngelou lobbied legislators to enact laws that favored marriageequality. Throughout her career challenged women totake up active duties in their families, churches, and the country. In her continued role to ensure the progress of women andparticularly those of the African-American decent, hasplayed a vital role in mentoring young women through her manylectures and speeches in different institutions and organizations.

Why did you selected her

Having read several of her poems, I think that her works speakstraight to the heart of the audience. ’s poems areingrained in the oral tradition genre of literature and as such therhyme, sound, and rhythm play a crucial role in developing meaning. She uses unique similes and metaphors within her narratives. I enjoywork of arts where the artist incorporates his/her own personal storyinto the narration. I find it appealing as it tends to be freer, withlittle settled norm, hence, easily understandable. I love the way sometimes narrates and describes incidents in a dramaticway. Before undertaking this project, I had substantial knowledge of. From the little information I had about her, I thinkshe is a person who makes me question the essence of my life.Throughout her career, she had accomplished things that only a fewpeople could imagine. Besides, the way she was able to move from onefield to another has always inspired me to explore the known withmuch vigor and optimism. Her humble background also inspires me.Having experienced almost every bad thing the world has to offer interms of sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, and racialsegregation Angelou still managed to overcome all these odds andemerge one of the most renowned scholars and thinkers the world hasever seen. I am greatly inspired by her life, work, andaccomplishments. For example, her Poetry Still I Rise hasplayed a pivotal role in making me the person I am today. When I feeldefeated, remembering the hardships and tribulations people such asAngelou persevered provide me with energy to keep pushing. It isbecause of all these reasons that I choose to gain deeperunderstanding of the life and work of Mary Angelou.

In conclusion, Mary Angelou was born 1924 and died in 2014 aged 86years. She experienced a violent childhood in terms of having beingrejected by her father and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Sheonce worked as a prostitute, nightclub dancer, singer, actor,playwright, script writer, and film director. Among heraccomplishments include being the first female African-American filmdirector in Hollywood. Besides, she played a fundamental role in theliberation of blacks not only during the civil rights movement inAmerican but also in Africa where she worked in different newspapersin Accra and Egypt. She championed for the end of racial segregationin American during the civil rights movements alongside Malcolm X andDr. King Jr. Her major role during the movement was raising funds tofinance the rebellion. Apart from championing for the rights of theAfrican Americans, has fought tirelessly for the end tothe gender discrimination. Throughout her career, she has writtenmany autobiographies and poems carrying the message of womenliberation. For me, is a source of inspiration,particularly because of what she went through during her childhoodyet she managed to overcome all those hurdles and become one of themost honored people to ever live. Besides, her poems appeal to mebecause of her vivid narrations that are accompanied by emotions.


Agins, D. B.(2011).&nbspMayaAngelou:&quot Diversity Makes for a Rich Tapestry.&quotEnslow Publishers, Inc.

Hagen, L. B.(2014).&nbspHeartof a woman, mind of a writer, and soul of a poet: a critical analysisof the writings of .University Press of America.

PoetryFoundation. (2016). “.” Accessed on October 3, 2016.