What Happened To Maya Angelou - Poetry & Poets (2024)

Maya Angelou was an influential writer, poet, singer, actress, and civil rights activist who passed away in 2014. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, Angelou rose to prominence after the publication of her seven autobiographies, as well as her poetry and several plays and movies. Her works discussed topics such as racism, identity, family, and love. Angelou’s impact was acknowledged by many, including the American President Barack Obama, who said that her work “has touched our hearts and strengthened our nation.”

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1. Maya Angelou’s Life

2. Maya Angelou’s Legacy

4. Maya Angelou’s Writings and Works

5. Maya Angelou’s Passion for Performing

Angelou’s activism spanned decades. She was active in the civil rights movement, beginning in 1952 at Martin Luther King Jr.’sChristian Leadership Conference. She was a poll tax specialist, a leader in the desegregation of Arkansas, and was an important part of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. Angelou also fought on behalf of freedom of speech, belonging to the Black Arts Movement, often promoting lesser-known authors’ work.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Angelou’s career switched articles and essays, becoming a public figure. During this period, she publicized much of her personal struggles and experiences. Angelou was highly critical of the racism she encountered—and rarely shied away from sharing her thoughts on the corrosive effect of racism to the national conversation. In 1993, she gave a powerful and inspiring keynote address at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration.

On May 28, 2014, Maya Angelou passed away at age 86 in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was survived by her son, her brother, and many grandchildren. She was considered one of the most influential public intellectuals of all time, writing and speaking on a variety of social issues including racism, identity, womanhood, family, and love—all of which she touched on in her works.

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Recognizing her influence, both President Obama and former president Bill Clinton gave speeches honoring her life and legacy upon her death. Her words still remain, though, citing her saying: “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”

Maya Angelou’s Life

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri to parents Vivian Baxter and Bailey Johnson Sr., on April 4th, 1928. In her early years she lived in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas, during the Great Depression. Angelou experienced discrimination and racism, but her family’s love and strength, as well as her belief in her talents and abilities, helped her strive. When she was eight, Angelou write her first poem and enrolled in junior high school, where she was elected as class valedictorian.

In 1 951, Angelou married a Greek sailor, Tosh Angelos. Her son Guy, who she referred to as her crown prince, was born to the couple, and in 1954 Angelos and Angelou divorced due to different life goals. Later in the same year, Angelou moved to New York City, where she was active in the civil rights movement. She began performing in nightclubs and eventually moved to Egypt to become the editor of the weekly English-language newspaper, The Arab Observer.

In 1957, Angelou met South African civil rights leader Vusumzi Make and returned to the US and continued pursuing a performing career. After living in New York and California, she eventually settled in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she was active in the women’s rights movement and founded the “WOMAN (Women’s Opportunity to Achieve Now) Project. In 1993, Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by Bill Clinton. During this period, she devoted her time to teaching, writing, and performing works.

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Angelou’s first of seven autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969. This work made her internationally famous, addressing themes such as racism, family, and identity. Her other autobiographical works include Gather Together in My Name, The Heart of Woman, and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.

Angelou also wrote countless volumes of poetry, including “On The Pulse of Morning”, which she performed at the 1993 Clinton presidential inauguration, poem “And Still I Rise”, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and her last collection of poetry, Mom and Me and Mom, released in 2013.

Maya Angelou’s Legacy

Maya Angelou has left behind a remarkable legacy of religion, activism, film, and love. Her God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes has always been especially important to her, emphasizing the importance of religious faith, which she felt was not emphasized enough in today’s society. Additionally, she was an important civil rights activist, speaking particularly on segregation and inequality, laying the building blocks of further progress.

Angelou starred as Kunta Kinte’s mother in the popular 1977 TV series Roots, as well as in several television shows and movies. Angelou was an exceptional orator and public speaker, delivering powerful speeches for various institutions and herself. Her work promoted peace, love, and acceptance. As Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

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Angelou also had an extensive influence on many artists from different genres. She worked with a wide array of performers, was featured on many albums, and performed with a variety of groups. Furthermore, Angelou was a mentor and teacher to many young creatives within her community. Writers and poets such as lyricist & Ira Brown Jr., author & Danielle Henderson, and poets & Jason Miller, all recognize the influence Angelou had on their writings.

Maya Angelou will forever be remembered for her work and activism, leaving behind a powerful legacy that inspired and enabled many to speak out, pursue their dreams, and promote acceptance and equality. Her impact continues to be honored, inspiring millions in many ways. As she once said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Maya Angelou’s Social and Political Activism

Maya Angelou’s efforts to fight injustice and inequality spanned decades. In 1952, she began her involvement in the civil rights movement at Martin Luther King Jr.’s Christian Leadership Conference. As a modern-day freedom fighter, she stood up against inequality and segregation, advocating for equal rights and opportunities. In 1965, she became the first African-American woman to be an official leader in the Selma to Montgomery march. During the same period, she was a poll tax specialist who helped eliminate racial discrimination in voting.

As a social and political activist, Angelou was also an advocate for freedom of speech. She was part of the Black Arts Movement, which aimed to advance the visibility of black authors. Angelou spoke lovingly of the efforts to move forward with the Black Arts Movement and its goal of promoting lesser-known authors’ work. During her lifetime, she also wrote and spoke about various social issues including racism, family, identity, and love.

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Furthermore, Angelou was an advocate for women’s rights. She was a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and founded the W.O.A.N. (Women’s Opportunity to Achieve Now) Project, a Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based organization that provided services and support for minority women. Her essay, “The Case for Women’s Rights”, also brought attention to the issues women faced in the workplace and society.

Maya Angelou willingly put herself in the fray for political causes she believed in. She supported numerous women’s rights causes, leaders and organizations like the National Women’s Political Caucus that advocated for women’s rights. Angelou also campaigned for political candidates, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Angelou’s support was invaluable to Obama’s presidential campaign, and her words were spoken at his inauguration.

Maya Angelou’s Writings and Works

Maya Angelou began to work as a freelance writer in the 1950s, writing for magazines such as Sepia, a magazine specifically for African American women. However, it was her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which made Angelou famous, detailing her childhood traumas and discussing issues of race and identity. Her other autobiographical works include Gather Together in My Name, The Heart of Woman, and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.

In addition to her seven autobiographies, Angelou wrote numerous volumes of poetry. Her most renowned works include “On The Pulse of Morning”, “And Still I Rise”, and “A Brave and Startling Truth”. Her last collection of poetry was Mom and Me and Mom, released in 2013. Angelou also wrote several plays, books for children and adults, and lyrics for many gospel songs.

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Maya Angelou is known for her influence on and in the world of books. Angelou was not just a great storyteller and poet, she also wrote about social issues and her struggles with racism and identity. Her works resonated and were inspiring to many, tackling racism, identity, family and love. Perhaps most famously, Angelou wrote the poem “A Brave and Startling Truth” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Although she worked in film, television, and radio, it was her writings and books which resonated most with people. Angelou’s books encompassed numerous topics, such as her 1995 work Phenomenal Women, which celebrated the achievements of black women across different walks of life, and Even the Stars Look Lonesome, which highlights Angelou’s thoughts on being a single mother and the power of love and friendship, just to name a few.

Maya Angelou’s Passion for Performing

Maya Angelou had passions for both writing and performing. Her career began with performing in clubs in San Francisco, where she sang and danced. Angelou began to land minor acting roles in movies and TV shows, such as the 1977 mini-series Roots. However, her acclaimed body pf work really honed in on the spoken word, which is stirring and emotionally powerful.

Throughout her life, Angelou developed a strong, elegant platform which she used to communicate her views on life and social issues. Many people remember her for her impassioned, often life-changing, speeches. Angelou gave the keynote address at Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration, delivering the powerful and moving poem “On the Pulse of Morning”. Angelou was always passionate about speaking her truth, regardless of who agreed or disagreed with her. Angelou’s powerful words remain etched in history.

Angelou worked with many different types of performers, including jazz and blues musicians like Quincy Jones and B.B. King. Angelou collaborated with musicians from all genres and took part in many albums. Some of her best works include her duet with Ashford & Simpson and her Jazz/Blues LP with blues legend Odetta. Angelou’s collaboration with Mavis Staples on the song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” is also an iconic testament to her joyful and soulful singing voice.

Angelou was well-rounded, speaking and performing her way into the hearts of millions. Her passion for the arts and humanism enabled her to work with many creatives and to share her wisdom with the world. Angelou’s passion and talent for performing certainly lives on through her works.

What Happened To Maya Angelou - Poetry & Poets (2024)
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