Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou ( /ˈmaɪ.ə ˈændʒəloʊ/; born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She has received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of 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 seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

Angelou's list of occupations includes pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, castmember of the musical Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1991, she has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.

With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou was one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. She is respected as a spokesperson of Black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, 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 has 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. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.

Read more about Maya Angelou:  Works, Style and Genre in Autobiographies, Poetry

Famous quotes by maya angelou:

    We had won. Pimps got out of their polished cars and walked the streets of San Francisco only a little uneasy at the unusual exercise. Gamblers, ignoring their sensitive fingers, shook hands with shoeshine boys.... Beauticians spoke to the shipyard workers, who in turn spoke to the easy ladies.... I thought if war did not include killing, I’d like to see one every year. Something like a festival.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

    A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning’s greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications.... Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

    If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

    Strictly speaking, one cannot legislate love, but what one can do is legislate fairness and justice. If legislation does not prohibit our living side by side, sooner or later your child will fall on the pavement and I’ll be the one to pick her up. Or one of my children will not be able to get into the house and you’ll have to say, ‘Stop here until your mom comes here.’ Legislation affords us the chance to see if we might love each other.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

    Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)