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Dr Maya Angelou
Dr Maya Angelou was one of the most influential woman of our time. Dr Angelou was a poet, author , educator, actress, producer, historian, and last but not least civil rights activist. Dr Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on 4th April , 1928 in St Louis, Missouri ,United States of America. She and her older brother, Bailey spent their formative years being raised by there maternal grandmother in Arkansas where she experienced racial discrimination. At the age of 8, she was sexually abused by her mother’s partner and as a result became a selected mute for a period of time. Despite these childhood trauma’s, Maya became the first black women to secure employment in a department store in Arkansas. Maya became a single mother, giving birth to her only child at the age of 17.
During the 1960s Dr Angelou travelled the world, staring in musical productions such as Porgy and Bess. She worked as a journalist in Egypt and Africa during the decolonisation of Africa
She moved to Ghana where is she taught at the University of Ghana School of Music and Drama. She also became editor of the African Review and wrote for the Ghanian times. It was during this time that Maya Angelou met Malcolm X and they returned to the United states in 1964. Following Maya’s return to the USA, she worked alongside Malcolm X in the African American Unity programme and following his assassination in 1965, she began working with Dr Martin Luther King as the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Dr Angelou has published seven autobiographies and is best known for her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1970) which has enjoyed international success. Her follow up autobiographies included Gather Together My Name, Singing’ and Swinging’ and Getting Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Women, All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes and A Song Flung up to Heaven.
In addition to being a novelist, Maya Angelou is a world renowned poet and one of her most famous poems, “On the Pulse of the Morning’ was recited at President Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993. Maya Angelou also won a grammy award in 1994 for ‘ Best Spoken Word for “On the Pulse of the Morning”.
Maya Angelou has accomplished many achievements during her lifetime and she is credited with a long list of plays, movies and television shows during her illustrious career. She was the first African American women to have a screenplay made into a film. Georgia Georgia made it’s debut in 1972 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Maya Angelou received over 50 honorary degrees for her contribution to literature from various universities. Dr Angelou was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011. Dr Angelou sadly passed away on 28th May 2014 aged 86 years , leaving her only son, Guy, her granddaughter and two grandchildren. She will be sadly missed.
Author Natasha Stewart