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Maya Angelou

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Title: Maya Angelou  
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Subject: Super Soul Sunday, Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, The Heart of a Woman, On the Pulse of Morning
Collection: 1928 Births, 2014 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Dramatists and Playwrights, 20Th-Century American Poets, 20Th-Century Women Writers, Actresses from St. Louis, Missouri, African-American Actresses, African-American Dancers, African-American Dramatists and Playwrights, African-American Female Dancers, African-American Methodists, African-American Non-Fiction Writers, African-American Poets, African-American Women Writers, American Activists, American Female Dancers, American Memoirists, American People of Mende Descent, American People of Sierra Leonean Descent, American Television Actresses, American Women Dramatists and Playwrights, American Women Poets, Baptists from the United States, Grammy Award Winners, Lecturers, Maya Angelou, Modern Dancers, People from Stamps, Arkansas, Poets from Missouri, Wake Forest University Faculty, Women Memoirists, Writers from Arkansas, Writers from Missouri
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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
Angelou reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning", at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, January 1993
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson
(1928-04-04)April 4, 1928
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died May 28, 2014(2014-05-28) (aged 86)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
Occupation Author, poet, civil rights activist
Language English
Ethnicity African American
Period 1969–2014
Genre Autobiography
Notable works
  • Tosh Angelos (1951–54, div.)
  • Paul du Feu (1973–81, div.)

Maya Angelou (;[1][2] born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author, poet, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.[3] Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. In 1982, she earned the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Beginning in the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.

With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture. Attempts have been made to ban her books from some U.S. libraries, but her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel.


  • Life and career 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Adulthood and early career: 1951–61 1.2
    • Africa to Caged Bird: 1961–69 1.3
    • Later career 1.4
    • Personal life 1.5
    • Death 1.6
  • Works 2
    • Chronology of autobiographies 2.1
  • Reception and legacy 3
    • Influence 3.1
    • Critical reception 3.2
    • Awards and honors 3.3
    • Uses in education 3.4
  • Poetry 4
  • Style and genre in autobiographies 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
    • Explanatory notes 7.1
    • Citations 7.2
    • Works cited 7.3
  • External links 8

Life and career

Early years

Marguerite Annie Johnson[4] was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928, the second child of Bailey Johnson, a doorman and navy dietitian, and Vivian (Baxter) Johnson, a nurse and card dealer.[5][note 1] Angelou's older brother, Bailey Jr., nicknamed Marguerite "Maya", derived from "My" or "Mya Sister".[6] When Angelou was three and her brother four, their parents' "calamitous marriage"[7] ended, and their father sent them to Stamps, Arkansas, alone by train, to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson. In "an astonishing exception"[8] to the harsh economics of African Americans of the time, Angelou's grandmother prospered financially during the Great Depression and World War II because the general store she owned sold needed basic commodities and because "she made wise and honest investments".[5][note 2]

And Angelou's life has certainly been a full one: from the hardscrabble Depression era South to pimp, prostitute, supper club chanteuse, performer in Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, journalist in Egypt and Ghana in the heady days of decolonization, comrade of Malcolm X, and eyewitness to the Watts riots. She knew King and Malcolm, Billie Holiday, and Abbey Lincoln.

Reviewer John McWhorter, The New Republic (McWhorter, p. 36)

To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn't have to go through half the things she has.

The Guardian writer Gary Younge, 2009[10]

Four years later, the children's father "came to Stamps without warning"[11] and returned them to their mother's care in St. Louis. At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend, a man named Freeman. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, probably by Angelou's uncles.[12] Angelou became mute for almost five years,[13] believing, as she stated, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone ..."[14] According to Marcia Ann Gillespie and her colleagues, who wrote a biography about Angelou, it was during this period of silence when Angelou developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her.[15]

Shortly after Freeman's murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother.[16] Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. Flowers introduced her to authors such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, authors who would affect her life and career, as well as black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset.[17][18][19]

When Angelou was 14, she and her brother moved in with their mother once again, who had since moved to Oakland, California. During World War II, Angelou attended the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco.[20] Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde (who later changed his name to Guy Johnson).[21][22]

Adulthood and early career: 1951–61

Angelou's first album, Miss Calypso, produced in 1957, was made possible by the popularity of her nightclub act.

In 1951, Angelou married

External links

  • Angelou, Maya (1969). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-50789-2
  • Angelou, Maya (1993). Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-22363-6
  • Angelou, Maya (2008). Letter to My Daughter. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-8129-8003-5
  • Braxton, Joanne M., ed. (1999). Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook. New York: Oxford Press. ISBN 978-0-19-511606-9
    • Braxton, Joanne M. "Symbolic Geography and Psychic Landscapes: A Conversation with Maya Angelou", pp. 3–20
    • Tate, Claudia. "Maya Angelou: An Interview", pp. 149–158
  • Burr, Zofia (2002). Of Women, Poetry, and Power: Strategies of Address in Dickinson, Miles, Brooks, Lorde, and Angelou. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02769-7
  • DeGout, Yasmin Y. (2009). "The Poetry of Maya Angelou: Liberation Ideology and Technique". In Bloom's Modern Critical Views—Maya Angelou, Harold Bloom, ed. New York: Infobase Publishing, pp. 121–132. ISBN 978-1-60413-177-2
  • Gillespie, Marcia Ann, Rosa Johnson Butler, and Richard A. Long. (2008). Maya Angelou: A Glorious Celebration. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-385-51108-7
  • Hagen, Lyman B. (1997). Heart of a Woman, Mind of a Writer, and Soul of a Poet: A Critical Analysis of the Writings of Maya Angelou. Lanham, Maryland: University Press. ISBN 978-0-7618-0621-9
  • Lauret, Maria (1994). Liberating Literature: Feminist Fiction in America. New York: Routledge Press. ISBN 978-0-415-06515-3
  • Long, Richard (2005). "Maya Angelou". Smithsonian 36, (8): pp. 84–85
  • Lupton, Mary Jane (1998). Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-30325-8
  • McWhorter, John (2002). "Saint Maya." The New Republic 226, (19): pp. 35–41.
  • O'Neale, Sondra (1984). "Reconstruction of the Composite Self: New Images of Black Women in Maya Angelou's Continuing Autobiography", in Black Women Writers (1950–1980): A Critical Evaluation, Mari Evans, ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-17124-3
  • Toppman, Lawrence (1989). "Maya Angelou: The Serene Spirit of a Survivor", in Conversations with Maya Angelou, Jeffrey M. Elliot, ed. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press. ISBN 978-0-87805-362-9
  • Walker, Pierre A. (October 1995). "Racial Protest, Identity, Words, and Form in Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". College Literature 22, (3): pp. 91–108.

Works cited

  1. ^ "Maya Angelou". December 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ Glover, Terry (December 2009). "Dr. Maya Angelou". Ebony 65 (2): 67. 
  3. ^ a b Stanley, Alessandra (May 17, 1992). "Whose Honor Is It, Anyway". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ Ferrer, Anne (May 29, 2014). "Angelou's optimism overcame hardships". The Star Phoenix. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Lupton, p. 4.
  6. ^ Angelou (1969), p. 67.
  7. ^ Angelou (1969), p. 6.
  8. ^ Johnson, Claudia (2008). "Introduction". In Johnson, Claudia. Racism in Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Press. p. 11.  
  9. ^ Angelou (1993), pp. 21–24.
  10. ^ a b Younge, Gary (November 13, 2013). "Maya Angelou: 'I'm fine as wine in the summertime". The Guardian (London). Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ Angelou (1969), p. 52.
  12. ^ Braxton, Joanne M. (1999). Maya Angelou's I Know why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook. Oxford University Press. p. 121.  
  13. ^ Lupton, p. 5.
  14. ^ "Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".  
  15. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 22.
  16. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 21–22.
  17. ^ a b Angelou (1969), p. 13.
  18. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 23.
  19. ^ a b Lupton, p. 15.
  20. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 28.
  21. ^ Angelou (1969), p. 279.
  22. ^ Long, Richard (November 1, 2005). "35 Who Made a Difference: Maya Angelou". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  23. ^ Hagen, p. xvi.
  24. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 29, 31.
  25. ^ Powell, Dannye Romine (1994). "Maya Angelou". Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair Publisher. p. 10.  
  26. ^ a b Angelou (1993), p. 95.
  27. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 36–37.
  28. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 38.
  29. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 41.
  30. ^ Hagen, pp. 91–92.
  31. ^ a b c Miller, John M. "Calypso Heat Wave". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  32. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 48.
  33. ^ Angelou (2008), p. 80.
  34. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 49–51.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h Als, Hilton (August 5, 2002). "Songbird: Maya Angelou takes another look at herself". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  36. ^ Hagen, p. 103.
  37. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 57.
  38. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 64.
  39. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 59.
  40. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 65.
  41. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 71.
  42. ^ Gillespie, p. 156.
  43. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 74, 75.
  44. ^ Braxton, p. 3.
  45. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 79–80.
  46. ^ "Maya Angelou Interview". Academy of Achievement. p. 2. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  47. ^ Boyd, Herb (August 5, 2010). "Maya Angelou Remembers James Baldwin". New York Amsterdam News 100 (32): 17. 
  48. ^ Gillespie et al., pp. 85–96.
  49. ^ a b Gillespie et al., p. 98.
  50. ^ a b c Minzesheimer, Bob (March 26, 2008). "Maya Angelou celebrates her 80 years of pain and joy". USA Today. Retrieved November 22, 2014. 
  51. ^ All 10 episodes of Blacks, Blues, Black! can be viewed online:
  52. ^ Angelou, Maya (February 1982). "Why I Moved Back to the South". Ebony (37). Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  53. ^ Smith, Dinitia (January 23, 2007). "A Career in Letters, 50 Years and Counting". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  54. ^ Brown, Avonie (January 4, 1997). "Maya Angelou: The Phenomenal Woman Rises Again". New York Amsterdam News (88): 2. 
  55. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 105.
  56. ^ Angelou, Maya (1997). Even the Stars Look Lonesome. New York: Random House. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-553-37972-3.
  57. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 119.
  58. ^ Feeney, Nolan (May 28, 2014). "Roberta Flack Remembers Maya Angelou: ‘We All Have Been Inspired’". Time Magazine. Retrieved November 15, 2014. 
  59. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 110.
  60. ^ a b Moore, Lucinda (April 2003). "Growing Up Maya Angelou". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  61. ^  
  62. ^ Winfrey, Oprah (December 2000). "Oprah Talks to Maya Angelou". O Magazine. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  63. ^ Angelou (1993), p. x.
  64. ^ Glover, Terry (December 2009). "Dr. Maya Angelou". Ebony (65): 67. 
  65. ^ a b c d Hewlett, Michael (May 28, 2014). "Maya Angelou, famed poet, writer, activist, dead at 86". The Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  66. ^ Cohen, Patricia (host) (October 1, 2008). "Book Discussion on Letter to My Daughter". CSPAN Video Library (Documentary). The New York Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  67. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 126.
  68. ^ McGrath, Kim (June 2, 2014). "Remembering Dr. Maya Angelou". News Center. Wake Forest University. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  69. ^ a b c Manegold, Catherine S. (January 20, 1993). "An Afternoon with Maya Angelou; A Wordsmith at Her Inaugural Anvil". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  70. ^ a b c d Younge, Gary (May 24, 2002). "No surrender". The Guardian. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  71. ^ a b Gillepsie et al., p. 9.
  72. ^ Berkman, Meredith (February 26, 1993). "Everybody's All American". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  73. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 142.
  74. ^ Long, p. 84.
  75. ^ a b Gillespie et al., p. 144.
  76. ^ Letkemann, Jessica (May 28, 2014). "Maya Angelou's Life in Music: Ashford & Simpson Collab, Calypso Album & More". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2014. 
  77. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 10.
  78. ^ Williams, Jeannie (January 10, 2002). "Maya Angelou pens her sentiments for Hallmark". USA Today. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  79. ^ a b c d Alter, Alexander (May 28, 2014). "Author, Poet Maya Angelou Dies". The Wall Street Journal. 
  80. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 175.
  81. ^ Mooney, Alexander (December 10, 2008). "Clinton camp answers Oprah with Angelou". CNN Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  82. ^ Williams, Krissah (January 18, 2008). "Presidential candidates court S.C. black newspaper".  
  83. ^ Zeleny, Jeff; Marjorie Connelly (January 27, 2008). "Obama Carries South Carolina by Wide Margin". New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2009. 
  84. ^ Parker, Jennifer (January 19, 2009). "From King's 'I Have a Dream' to Obama Inauguration". ABC News. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  85. ^ Waldron, Clarence (November 11, 2010). "Maya Angelou Donates Private Collection to Schomburg Center in Harlem". Jet Magazine. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  86. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (October 26, 2010). "Schomburg Center in Harlem Acquires Maya Angelou Archive". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  87. ^ Weingarten, Gene; Ruane, Michael E. (August 30, 2011). "Maya Angelou says King memorial inscription makes him look ‘arrogant’". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  88. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (December 11, 2011). "Controversial King memorial inscription to be removed, not replaced". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 17, 2014. 
  89. ^ Sayers, Valerie (March 27, 2013). Mom & Me & Mom,' by Maya Angelou"'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  90. ^ Tate, p. 150.
  91. ^ Angelou, Maya (1984). "Shades and Slashes of Light". In Evans, Mari. Black Women Writers (1950–1980): A Critical Evaluation. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 5.  
  92. ^ Toppman, p. 145.
  93. ^ Gates, Jr., Henry L. (host) (2008). "African American Lives 2: The Past is Another Country (Part 4)". PBS. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  94. ^ Angelou, Maya (1986). All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-679-73404-8.
  95. ^ Gates, Jr., Henry L. (host) (2008). "African American Lives 2: A Way out of No Way (Part 2)". PBS. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  96. ^ Lupton, p. 2.
  97. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 156.
  98. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 155.
  99. ^ Beyette, Beverly (June 12, 1986). "Angelou's 4-Year Search for Grandson : Kidnaping Spurs Emotional Odyssey". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  100. ^ Lupton, p. 19.
  101. ^ Chapman, Michael W (May 28, 2014). "Maya Angelou: ‘God Loves Me’ – ‘That’s Why I Am Who I Am’". CNS Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  102. ^ a b c Younge, Gary (November 13, 2009). "'"Maya Angelou: 'I'm fine as wine in the summertime. The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2013-12-13. 
  103. ^ a b Yee, Vivian (May 29, 2014). "Maya Angelou Often Left New York, but She Always Came Back". The New York Times. p. A23. Retrieved November 18, 2014. 
  104. ^ Gillespie et al., p. 150.
  105. ^ Pierce, Donna (5 January 2005). "Welcome to her world: Poet-author Maya Angelou blends recipes and memories in winning style". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  106. ^ Crea, Joe (January 18, 2011). "Maya Angelou's cookbook 'Great Food, All Day Long' exudes cozy, decadence". Northeast Ohio Media Group. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  107. ^ Sarler, Carol (1989). "A Day in the Life of Maya Angelou". In Elliot, Jeffrey M. Conversations with Maya Angelou. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press. p. 217.  
  108. ^ Angelou (2008), pp. 63—67.
  109. ^ a b c d "Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". World Book Club (interview). BBC World Service. October 2005. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  110. ^ "Dr. Maya Angelou dead at 86". Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  111. ^ Johnson, Guy (June 7, 2014). "Full Remarks: Angelou's son, Guy Johnson". Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  112. ^ "Maya Angelou 'the brightest light' says Barack Obama". BBC News. May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  113. ^ Jenkins, Colleen; Trott, Bill (May 28, 2014). "U.S. author, poet Maya Angelou dies at 86". Reuters. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  114. ^ WBTV Web Staff (May 29, 2014). "Dr Maya Angelou remembered at public memorial service". Winston-Salem, NC, U.S.: Worldnow and WDAM TV. Retrieved May 30, 1014. 
  115. ^ "Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service".  
  116. ^ Tobar, Hector (June 4, 2014). "Maya Angelou's memorial service to be live-streamed".  
  117. ^ "PROGRAM NOTE: Maya Angelou, French Open".  
  118. ^ "Maya Angelou memorial service set for Saturday, will be shown live on FOX8 and".  
  119. ^ Smith, Christie; Cestone, Vince (June 15, 2014). "Maya Angelou Remembered as 'Daughter of San Francisco' at Glide Memorial Church". NBC Bay Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  120. ^ a b O'Neal, Lonnae (April 6, 2015). "Maya Angelou’s new stamp uses a quote that may not be entirely hers". The Washington Post. 
  121. ^ Ian Crouch, "Maya Angelou and the Internet's stamp of approval", The New Yorker, April 10, 2015.
  122. ^ Lupton, p. 98.
  123. ^ Lupton, p. 1.
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  125. ^ a b c "Maya Angelou". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
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  128. ^ Tate, p. 155.
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  130. ^ a b Moyer, Homer E (2003). The R.A.T. Real-World Aptitude Test: Preparing Yourself for Leaving Home. Herndon, New York: Capital Books. p. 297.  
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  132. ^ a b c Braxton, p. 4.
  133. ^ Long, p. 85.
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  141. ^ Maughan, Shannon (March 3, 2003). "Grammy Gold". Publishers Weekly 250 (9): 38. 
  142. ^ "Past Winners". Tony Awards. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  143. ^ "National Commission on the observance of International Women's Year, 1975 Appointment of Members and Presiding Officer of the Commission". The American Presidency Project. March 28, 1977. Retrieved December 21, 013. 
  144. ^ "Spingarn Medal Winners". NAACP. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  145. ^ "Sculptor, Painter among National Medal of Arts Winners". December 20, 2000. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  146. ^ Norton, Jerry (February 15, 2011). "Obama awards freedom medals to Bush, Merkel, Buffett". Reuters. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  147. ^ Glazier, Jocelyn A. (Winter 2003). "Moving Closer to Speaking the Unspeakable: White Teachers Talking about Race" (PDF). Teacher Education Quarterly (California Council on Teacher Education) 30 (1): 73–94. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 1, 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  148. ^ Challener, Daniel D. (1997). Stories of Resilience in Childhood. London, England: Taylor & Francis. pp. 22–3.  
  149. ^ Boyatzis, Chris J. (February 1992). "Let the Caged Bird Sing: Using Literature to Teach Developmental Psychology". Teaching of Psychology 19 (4): 221–2.  
  150. ^ DeGout, p. 122.
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  152. ^ Burr, p. 181.
  153. ^ Bloom, Harold (2001). Maya Angelou. Broomall, Pennsylvania: Chelsea House Publishers. p. 9.  
  154. ^ Burr, p. 183.
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  156. ^ Lauret, p. 98.
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  158. ^ a b Lupton, p. 34.
  159. ^ Sartwell, Crispin (1998). Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 26.  
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  162. ^ McWhorter, p. 41.
  163. ^ Bloom, Lynn Z. (2008). "The Life of Maya Angelou". In Johnson, Claudia. Racism in Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Press. p. 17.  
  164. ^ O'Neale, p. 32.
  165. ^ a b O'Neale, p. 34.
  166. ^ McWhorter, p. 39.
  167. ^ McWhorter, p. 38.
  168. ^ McWhorter, pp. 40–41.
  169. ^ Sayers, Valerie (September 28, 2008). "Songs of Herself". Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  170. ^ Hagen, p. 63.
  171. ^ Hagen, p. 61.
  172. ^ Lupton, p. 142.


  1. ^ Angelou wrote about Vivian Baxter's life and their relationship in Mom & Me & Mom (2013), her final installment in her series of seven autobiographies.
  2. ^ According to Angelou, Annie Henderson built her business with food stalls catering to black workers, which eventually developed into a store.[9]
  3. ^ The correct Greek spelling of Angelou's husband name is probably "Anastasios Angelopoulos".[25]
  4. ^ Reviewer John M. Miller calls Angelou's performance of her song "All That Happens in the Marketplace" the "most genuine musical moment in the film".[31]
  5. ^ In Angelou's third book of essays, Letter to My Daughter (2009), she credits Cuban artist Celia Cruz as one of the greatest influences of her singing career, and later, credits Cruz for the effectiveness and impact of Angelou's poetry performances and readings.[33]
  6. ^ Guy Johnson, who as a result of this accident in Accra and one in the late 1960s, underwent a series of spinal surgeries. He, like his mother, became a writer and poet.[42]
  7. ^ Angelou called her friendship with Malcolm X "a brother/sister relationship".[46]
  8. ^ Angelou did not celebrate her birthday for many years, choosing instead to send flowers to King's widow Coretta Scott King.[50]
  9. ^ See Mom & Me & Mom, pp. 168—178, for a description of Angelou's experience in Stockholm.
  10. ^ Angelou described their marriage, which she called "made in heaven",[56] in her second book of essays Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997).
  11. ^ Angelou co-wrote "And So It Goes" on Flack's 1988 album Oasis.[58]
  12. ^ Angelou dedicated her 1993 book of essays Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now to Winfrey.[63]
  13. ^ In her fifth autobiography All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1987), Angelou recounts being identified, on the basis of her appearance, as part of the Bambara people, a subset of the Mande.[94]
  14. ^ See Gillespie et al., pp. 153–175.
  15. ^ Angelou describes her brother's addiction to heroin in Mom & Me & Mom, pp. 189—194.
  16. ^ In Angelou's essay, "My Grandson, Home at Last", published in Woman's Day in 1986, she describes the kidnapping and her response to it.[100]
  17. ^ In Letter to My Daughter (2009), Angelou's third book of essays, she related the first time she used legal pads to write.[108]

Explanatory notes


See also

McWhorter recognizes that much of the reason for Angelou's style was the "apologetic" nature of her writing.[131] When Angelou wrote Caged Bird at the end of the 1960s, one of the necessary and accepted features of literature at the time was "organic unity", and one of her goals was to create a book that satisfied that criterion.[161] The events in her books were episodic and crafted like a series of short stories, but their arrangements did not follow a strict chronology. Instead, they were placed to emphasize the themes of her books, which include racism, identity, family, and travel. English literature scholar Valerie Sayers has asserted that "Angelou's poetry and prose are similar". They both rely on her "direct voice", which alternates steady rhythms with syncopated patterns and uses similes and metaphors (e.g., the caged bird).[169] According to Hagen, Angelou's works were influenced by both conventional literary and the oral traditions of the African-American community. For example, she referenced over 100 literary characters throughout her books and poetry.[170] In addition, she used the elements of blues music, including the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations.[171] Angelou, instead of depending upon plot, used personal and historical events to shape her books.[172]

According to scholar Sondra O'Neale, Angelou's poetry can be placed within the African-American oral tradition, and her prose "follows classic technique in nonpoetic Western forms".[164] O'Neale states that Angelou avoided using a "monolithic black language",[165] and accomplished, through direct dialogue, what O'Neale calls a "more expected ghetto expressiveness".[165] McWhorter finds both the language Angelou used in her autobiographies and the people she depicted unrealistic, resulting in a separation between her and her audience. As McWhorter states, "I have never read autobiographical writing where I had such a hard time summoning a sense of how the subject talks, or a sense of who the subject really is".[166] McWhorter asserts, for example, that key figures in Angelou's books, like herself, her son Guy, and mother Vivian do not speak as one would expect, and that their speech is "cleaned up" for her readers.[167] Guy, for example, represents the young black male, while Vivian represents the idealized mother figure, and the stiff language they use, as well as the language in Angelou's text, is intended to prove that blacks can use standard English competently.[168]

According to African-American literature scholar Pierre A. Walker, the challenge for much of the history of African-American literature was that its authors have had to confirm its status as literature before they could accomplish their political goals, which was why Angelou's editor Robert Loomis was able to dare her into writing Caged Bird by challenging her to write an autobiography that could be considered "high art".[161] Angelou acknowledged that she followed the slave narrative tradition of "speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning 'we'".[125] Scholar John McWhorter calls Angelou's books "tracts"[131] that defend African-American culture and fight negative stereotypes. According to McWhorter, Angelou structured her books, which to him seem to be written more for children than for adults, to support her defense of black culture. McWhorter sees Angelou as she depicts herself in her autobiographies "as a kind of stand-in figure for the black American in Troubled Times".[131] McWhorter views Angelou's works as dated, but recognizes that "she has helped to pave the way for contemporary black writers who are able to enjoy the luxury of being merely individuals, no longer representatives of the race, only themselves".[162] Scholar Lynn Z. Bloom compares Angelou's works to the writings of Frederick Douglass, stating that both fulfilled the same purpose: to describe black culture and to interpret it for their wider, white audiences.[163]

Angelou at York College in February 2013

Angelou's use of fiction-writing techniques such as dialogue, characterization, and development of theme, setting, plot, and language has often resulted in the placement of her books into the genre of autobiographical fiction.[155] Angelou made a deliberate attempt in her books to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre.[156] Scholar Mary Jane Lupton argues that all of Angelou's autobiographies conform to the genre's standard structure: they are written by a single author, they are chronological, and they contain elements of character, technique, and theme.[157] Angelou recognizes that there are fictional aspects to her books; Lupton agrees, stating that Angelou tended to "diverge from the conventional notion of autobiography as truth",[158] which parallels the conventions of much of African-American autobiography written during the abolitionist period of U.S. history, when as both Lupton and African-American scholar Crispin Sartwell put it, the truth was censored out of the need for self-protection.[158][159] Scholar Lyman B. Hagen places Angelou in the long tradition of African-American autobiography, but claims that Angelou created a unique interpretation of the autobiographical form.[160]

Style and genre in autobiographies

Many critics consider Angelou's autobiographies more important than her poetry.[151] Although all her books have been best-sellers, her poetry has not been perceived to be as serious as her prose and has been understudied.[5] Her poems were more interesting when she recited and performed them, and many critics emphasized the public aspect of her poetry.[152] Angelou's lack of critical acclaim has been attributed to both the public nature of many of her poems and to Angelou's popular success, and to critics' preferences for poetry as a written form rather than a verbal, performed one.[153] Zofia Burr has countered Angelou's critics by condemning them for not taking into account Angelou's larger purposes in her writing: "to be representative rather than individual, authoritative rather than confessional".[154]

Angelou is best known for her seven autobiographies, but she was also a prolific and successful poet. She was called "the black woman's poet laureate", and her poems have been called the anthems of African Americans.[135] Angelou studied and began writing poetry at a young age, and used poetry and other great literature to cope with her rape as a young girl, as described in Caged Bird.[17] According to scholar Yasmin Y. DeGout, literature also affected Angelou's sensibilities as the poet and writer she became, especially the "liberating discourse that would evolve in her own poetic canon".[150]


Educator Daniel Challener, in his 1997 book Stories of Resilience in Childhood, analyzed the events in Caged Bird to illustrate resiliency in children. Challener argued that Angelou's book has provided a "useful framework" for exploring the obstacles many children like Maya have faced and how their communities have helped them succeed.[148] Psychologist Chris Boyatzis has reported using Caged Bird to supplement scientific theory and research in the instruction of child development topics such as the development of self-concept and self-esteem, ego resilience, industry versus inferiority, effects of abuse, parenting styles, sibling and friendship relations, gender issues, cognitive development, puberty, and identity formation in adolescence. He found Caged Bird a "highly effective" tool for providing real-life examples of these psychological concepts.[149]

Angelou's autobiographies have been used in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name. According to Glazier, Angelou's use of understatement, self-mockery, humor, and irony have left readers of Angelou's autobiographies unsure of what she left out and how they should respond to the events she described. Angelou's depictions of her experiences of racism have forced white readers to explore their feelings about race and their own "privileged status". Glazier found that critics have focused on where Angelou fits within the genre of African-American autobiography and on her literary techniques, but readers have tended to react to her storytelling with "surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography".[147]

Uses in education

Angelou was honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors included a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie,[130] a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums.[141][142] She served on two presidential committees,[125][143] and was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1994,[144] the National Medal of Arts in 2000,[145] and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.[146] Angelou was awarded over fifty honorary degrees.[3]

Awards and honors

Angelou's books, especially I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, have been criticized by many parents, causing their removal from school curricula and library shelves. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, parents and schools have objected to Caged Bird's depictions of lesbianism, premarital cohabitation, pornography, and violence.[137] Some have been critical of the book's sexually explicit scenes, use of language, and irreverent depictions of religion.[138] Caged Bird appeared third on the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 and sixth on the ALA's 2000–2009 list.[139][140]

Reviewer Elsie B. Washington, most likely due to President Clinton's choice of Angelou to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at his 1993 inauguration, called her "the black woman's poet laureate".[135] Sales of the paperback version of her books and poetry rose by 300–600% the week after Angelou's recitation. Random House, which published the poem later that year, had to reprint 400,000 copies of all her books to keep up with the demand. They sold more of her books in January 1993 than they did in all of 1992, accounting for a 1200% increase.[136] Angelou famously said, in response to criticism regarding using the details of her life in her work, "I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money'".[70] Younge, speaking after the publication of Angelou's third book of essays, Letter to My Daughter (2008), has said, "For the last couple of decades she has merged her various talents into a kind of performance art—issuing a message of personal and social uplift by blending poetry, song and conversation".[102]

Critical reception

Als said that Caged Bird helped increase black feminist writings in the 1970s, less through its originality than "its resonance in the prevailing Zeitgeist",[35] or the time in which it was written, at the end of the American Civil Rights movement. Als also claimed that Angelou's writings, more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism, have freed other female writers to "open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world".[35] Angelou critic Joanne M. Braxton stated that Caged Bird was "perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing" autobiography written by an African-American woman in its era.[132] Angelou's poetry has influenced the modern hip-hop music community, including artists such as Kanye West, Common, Tupac Shakur, and Nicki Minaj.[134]

When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969, Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African-American women who were able to publicly discuss their personal lives. According to scholar Hilton Als, up to that point, black female writers were marginalized to the point that they were unable to present themselves as central characters in the literature they wrote.[35] Scholar John McWhorter agreed, seeing Angelou's works, which he called "tracts", as "apologetic writing". He placed Angelou in the tradition of African-American literature as a defense of black culture, which he called "a literary manifestation of the imperative that reigned in the black scholarship of the period".[131] Writer Julian Mayfield, who called Caged Bird "a work of art that eludes description",[35] argued that Angelou's autobiographies set a precedent for not only other black women writers, but also African-American autobiography as a whole. Als said that Caged Bird marked one of the first times that a black autobiographer could, as he put it, "write about blackness from the inside, without apology or defense".[35] Through the writing of her autobiography, Angelou became recognized and highly respected as a spokesperson for blacks and women.[132] It made her "without a doubt, ... America's most visible black woman autobiographer",[132] and "a major autobiographical voice of the time".[133] As writer Gary Younge said, "Probably more than almost any other writer alive, Angelou's life literally is her work."[70]

President Barack Obama presenting Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011


Reception and legacy

Chronology of autobiographies

[75] Angelou's successful acting career included roles in numerous plays, films, and television programs, including her appearance in the television mini-series

Angelou's long and extensive career also included poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking. She was a prolific writer of poetry; her volume Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" during his inauguration in 1993.[69][130]

All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.

Maya Angelou[129]

Angelou wrote a total of seven autobiographies. According to scholar Mary Jane Lupton, Angelou's third autobiography Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas marked the first time a well-known African-American autobiographer had written a third volume about her life.[122] Her books "stretch over time and place", from Arkansas to Africa and back to the U.S., and take place from the beginnings of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.[123] She published her seventh autobiography Mom & Me & Mom in 2013, at the age of 85.[124] Critics have tended to judge Angelou's subsequent autobiographies "in light of the first",[125] with Caged Bird receiving the highest praise. Angelou wrote five collections of essays, which writer Hilton Als called her "wisdom books" and "homilies strung together with autobiographical texts".[35] Angelou used the same editor throughout her writing career, Robert Loomis, an executive editor at Random House; he retired in 2011[126] and has been called "one of publishing's hall of fame editors."[127] Angelou said regarding Loomis: "We have a relationship that's kind of famous among publishers".[128]


In 2015 a United States Postal Service stamp was issued commemorating Maya Angelou with the Joan Walsh Anglund quote "A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song", though the stamp mistakenly attributes the quote to Angelou.[120][121] The quote is from Anglund's book of poems A Cup of Sun (1967).[120]

On May 29, 2014, Mount Zion Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, of which Angelou was a member for 30 years, held a public memorial service to honor Angelou.[114] On June 7, a private memorial service was held at Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. The memorial was shown live on local stations in the Winston-Salem/Triad area and streamed live on the university web site with speeches from her son, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton.[115][116][117][118] On June 15, a memorial was held at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, where Angelou was a member for many years. Rev. Cecil Williams, Mayor Ed Lee, and former mayor Willie Brown spoke.[119]

Tributes to Angelou and condolences were paid by artists, entertainers, and world leaders, including President Bill Clinton, and President Barack Obama, whose sister was named after Angelou.[79][112] Harold Augenbraum, from the National Book Foundation, said that Angelou's "legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to."[113] The week after Angelou's death, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings rose to #1 on's bestseller list.[79]

Angelou died on the morning of May 28, 2014.[110] She was found by her nurse. Although Angelou had reportedly been in poor health and had canceled recent scheduled appearances, she was working on another book, an autobiography about her experiences with national and world leaders.[65][79] During her memorial service at Wake Forest University, her son Guy Johnson stated that despite being in constant pain due to her dancing career and respiratory failure, she wrote four books during the last ten years of her life. He said, "She left this mortal plane with no loss of acuity and no loss in comprehension".[111]


Beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou used the same "writing ritual"[19] for many years. She would wake early in the morning and check into a hotel room, where the staff was instructed to remove any pictures from the walls. She would write on legal pads while lying on the bed, with only a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards to play solitaire, Roget's Thesaurus, and the Bible, and would leave by the early afternoon. She would average 10–12 pages of written material a day, which she edited down to three or four pages in the evening.[107][note 17] Angelou went through this process to "enchant" herself, and as she said in a 1989 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, "relive the agony, the anguish, the Sturm und Drang."[109] She placed herself back in the time she wrote about, even traumatic experiences like her rape in Caged Bird, in order to "tell the human truth"[109] about her life. Angelou stated that she played cards in order to get to that place of enchantment and in order to access her memories more effectively. She stated, "It may take an hour to get into it, but once I'm in it—ha! It's so delicious!"[109] She did not find the process cathartic; rather, she found relief in "telling the truth".[109]

According to Gillespie, she hosted several celebrations per year at her main residence in Winston-Salem; "her skill in the kitchen is the stuff of legend—from haute cuisine to down-home comfort food".[71] The Winston-Salem Journal stated, "Securing an invitation to one of Angelou’s Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas tree decorating parties or birthday parties was among the most coveted invitations in town".[65] The New York Times, describing Angelou's residence history in New York City, stated that she regularly hosted elaborate New Year's Day parties.[103] She combined her cooking and writing skills in her 2004 book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, which featured 73 recipes, many of which she learned from her grandmother and mother, accompanied by 28 vignettes.[105] She followed up with her second cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart in 2010, which focused on weight loss and portion control.[106]

In 2009, the gossip website TMZ erroneously reported that Angelou had been hospitalized in Los Angeles when she was alive and well in St. Louis, which resulted in rumors of her death and according to Angelou, concern among her friends and family worldwide.[10] In 2013, Angelou told her friend Oprah Winfrey that she had studied courses offered by the Unity Church, which were spiritually significant to her.[101] She did not earn a university degree, but according to Gillespie it was Angelou's preference that she be called "Dr. Angelou" by people outside of her family and close friends. She owned two homes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a "lordly brownstone"[102] in Harlem, which was purchased in 2004[103] and was full of her "growing library"[104] of books she collected throughout her life, artwork collected over the span of many decades, and well-stocked kitchens. Younge reported that in her Harlem home resides several African wall hangings and Angelou's collection of paintings, including ones of several jazz trumpeters, a watercolor of Rosa Parks, and a Faith Ringgold work entitled "Maya's Quilt Of Life".[102]

The details of Angelou's life described in her seven autobiographies and in numerous interviews, speeches, and articles tended to be inconsistent. Critic Mary Jane Lupton has explained that when Angelou spoke about her life, she did so eloquently but informally and "with no time chart in front of her".[96] For example, she was married at least twice, but never clarified the number of times she had been married, "for fear of sounding frivolous";[70] according to her autobiographies and to Gillespie, she married Tosh Angelos in 1951 and Paul du Feu in 1973, and began her relationship with Vusumzi Make in 1961, but never formally married him. Angelou had one son Guy, whose birth was described in her first autobiography, one grandson, and two great-grandchildren,[97] and according to Gillespie, a large group of friends and extended family.[note 14] Angelou's mother Vivian Baxter died in 1991 and her brother Bailey Johnson, Jr., died in 2000 after a series of strokes; both were important figures in her life and her books.[98][note 15] In 1981, the mother of her son Guy's child disappeared with Angelou's grandson; it took four years to find him.[99][note 16]

Evidence suggests that Angelou was partially descended from the Mende people of West Africa.[93][note 13] A 2008 PBS documentary found that Angelou's maternal great-grandmother Mary Lee, who had been emancipated after the Civil War, became pregnant by her white former owner, John Savin. Savin forced Lee to sign a false statement accusing another man of being the father of her child. After Savin was indicted for forcing Lee to commit perjury, and despite the discovery that Savin was the father, a jury found him not guilty. Lee was sent to the Clinton County poorhouse in Missouri with her daughter, Marguerite Baxter, who became Angelou's grandmother. Angelou described Lee as "that poor little Black girl, physically and mentally bruised."[95]

I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.

Maya Angelou, 1999[90]

I also wear a hat or a very tightly pulled head tie when I write. I suppose I hope by doing that I will keep my brains from seeping out of my scalp and running in great gray blobs down my neck, into my ears, and over my face.

Maya Angelou, 1984[91]

Nothing so frightens me as writing, but nothing so satisfies me. It's like a swimmer in the [English] Channel: you face the stingrays and waves and cold and grease, and finally you reach the other shore, and you put your foot on the ground—Aaaahhhh!

Maya Angelou, 1989[92]

Personal life

In 2013, at the age of 85, Angelou published the seventh autobiography in her series, titled Mom & Me & Mom, that focuses on her relationship with her mother.[89]

In late 2010, Angelou donated her personal papers and career memorabilia to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.[85] They consisted of over 340 boxes of documents that featured her handwritten notes on yellow legal pads for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a 1982 telegram from Coretta Scott King, fan mail, and personal and professional correspondence from colleagues such as her editor Robert Loomis.[86] In 2011, Angelou served as a consultant for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. She spoke out in opposition to a paraphrase of a quotation by King that appeared on the memorial, saying, “The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit",[87] and demanded that it be changed. Eventually, the paraphrase was removed.[88]

Angelou campaigned for the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential primaries, giving her public support to Senator Hillary Clinton.[50] In the run-up to the January Democratic primary in South Carolina, the Clinton campaign ran ads featuring Angelou's endorsement.[81] The ads were part of the campaign's efforts to rally support in the Black community;[82] but Obama won the South Carolina primary, finishing 29 points ahead of Clinton and taking 80% of the Black vote.[83] When Clinton's campaign ended, Angelou put her support behind Senator Barack Obama,[50] who went on to win the election and become the first African-American president of the United States. She stated, "We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism."[84]

Angelou achieved her goal of directing a feature film in 1996, Down in the Delta, which featured actors such as Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes.[75] Also in 1996, she collaborated with R&B artists Ashford & Simpson on seven of the eleven tracks of their album Been Found. The album was responsible for three of Angelou's only Billboard chart appearances.[76] In 2000, she created a successful collection of products for Hallmark, including greeting cards and decorative household items.[77][78] She responded to critics who charged her with being too commercial by stating that "the enterprise was perfectly in keeping with her role as 'the people's poet'".[79] Over thirty years after Angelou began writing her life story, she completed her sixth autobiography A Song Flung Up to Heaven, in 2002.[80]

In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.[69] Her recitation resulted in more fame and recognition for her previous works, and broadened her appeal "across racial, economic, and educational boundaries".[72] The recording of the poem won a Grammy Award.[73] In June 1995, she delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem",[74] entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Maya Angelou speaking at a rally for Barack Obama, 2008

In 1977, Angelou appeared in a supporting role in the television mini-series Roots. She was given a multitude of awards during this period, including over thirty honorary degrees from colleges and universities from all over the world.[60] In the late 1970s, Angelou met Oprah Winfrey when Winfrey was a TV anchor in Baltimore, Maryland; Angelou would later become Winfrey's close friend and mentor.[62][note 12] In 1981, Angelou and du Feu divorced. She returned to the southern United States in 1981 because she felt she had to come to terms with her past there, and despite having no bachelor's degree, accepted the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she was one of only a few full-time professors.[64][65] From that point on, she considered herself "a teacher who writes".[66] Angelou taught a variety of subjects that reflected her interests, including philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theater, and writing.[67] The Winston-Salem Journal reported that even though she made many friends on campus, "she never quite lived down all of the criticism from people who thought she was more of a celebrity than an intellect...[and] an overpaid figurehead".[65] The last course she taught at Wake Forest was in 2011, but she was planning to teach another course in late 2014. Her final speaking engagement at the university was in late 2013.[68] Beginning in the 1990s, Angelou actively participated in the lecture circuit[69] in a customized tour bus, something she continued into her eighties.[70][71]

[61].London in Almeida Theatre at the Moon on a Rainbow Shawl's play Errol John As a theater director, in 1988 she undertook a revival of [60].Look Away in 1973 for her role in Tony Award and was nominated for a [59] and composing movie scores. She wrote articles, short stories, TV scripts, documentaries, autobiographies, and poetry, produced plays, and was named visiting professor at several colleges and universities. She was "a reluctant actor",[note 11],Roberta Flack Angelou worked as a composer, writing for singer [57] Over the next ten years, as Gillespie has stated, "She [Angelou] had accomplished more than many artists hope to achieve in a lifetime".[note 10], Paul du Feu, in San Francisco in 1973.Germaine Greer carpenter and ex-husband of Welsh Angelou married [note 9][55] was released in 1972. She also wrote the film's soundtrack, despite having very little additional input in the filming of the movie.[54] Angelou's

Later career

In 1968, [35] and in what Gillespie calls "a macabre twist of fate",[49] he was assassinated on her 40th birthday (April 4).[note 8] Devastated again, she was encouraged out of her depression by her friend James Baldwin. As Gillespie states, "If 1968 was a year of great pain, loss, and sadness, it was also the year when America first witnessed the breadth and depth of Maya Angelou's spirit and creative genius".[49] Despite having almost no experience, she wrote, produced, and narrated Blacks, Blues, Black!,[51] a ten-part series of documentaries about the connection between blues music and black Americans' African heritage, and what Angelou called the "Africanisms still current in the U.S."[52] for National Educational Television, the precursor of PBS. Also in 1968, inspired at a dinner party she attended with Baldwin, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and his wife Judy, and challenged by Random House editor Robert Loomis, she wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, which brought her international recognition and acclaim.[53]

Angelou's friend James Baldwin was instrumental in the publication of her first autobiography.

In Accra, she became close friends with Watts and witnessed the riots in the summer of 1965. She acted in and wrote plays, and returned to New York in 1967. She met her lifelong friend Rosa Guy and renewed her friendship with James Baldwin, whom she had met in Paris in the 1950s and called "my brother", during this time.[47] Her friend Jerry Purcell provided Angelou with a stipend to support her writing.[48]

In 1961, Angelou performed in Jean Genet's play The Blacks, along with Abbey Lincoln, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett, Godfrey Cambridge, and Cicely Tyson.[38] Also in 1961, she met South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make; they never officially married.[39] She and her son Guy moved with Make to Cairo, where Angelou worked as an associate editor at the weekly English-language newspaper The Arab Observer.[40][41] In 1962, her relationship with Make ended, and she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, he to attend college, but he was seriously injured in an automobile accident.[note 6] Angelou remained in Accra for his recovery and ended up staying there until 1965. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community.[43] She was a feature editor for The African Review,[44] a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana, and worked and performed for Ghana's National Theatre. She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin.[45]

View of Accra, Ghana from above.
Most of Angelou's time in Africa was spent in Accra, Ghana, shown here in 2008.

Africa to Caged Bird: 1961–69

Angelou met novelist [36] Angelou also began her pro-Castro and anti-apartheid activism during this time.[37]

[note 5][note 4][31], in which Angelou sang and performed her own compositions.Calypso Heat Wave She appeared in an off-Broadway review that inspired the 1957 film [32][31][26], which was reissued as a CD in 1996.Miss Calypso In 1957, riding on the popularity of calypso, Angelou recorded her first album, [30] After Angelou's marriage ended in 1954, she danced professionally in clubs around San Francisco, including the nightclub

[27], but they returned to San Francisco a year later.Pearl Primus with Trinidadian dancer African dance so she could study New York City Angelou, her new husband, and her son moved to [26]

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