BHM Unsung Author: Maya Angelou

Paige Palent, Editorials and News Editor

Maya Angelou was a phenomenal person. 

In 9th grade, we had to do an activity where we had to read a poem out loud. Someone decided to read “Still I Rise,” and, of course, it was good. It was phenomenal. And that made me want to look into Angelou’s poetry more, and I’m not a poetry person. But, something about Angelou’s words swayed me to feel something rumbling in my bones that I’ve never felt before. 

Photo Credits to Dwight Carter

Maya Angelou’s childhood was not as wonderful though. She was born April 4th, 1928, and endured multiple tragedies that shook her to the core, leaving her mute for several years. These events shaped her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), with a TV-movie adaptation being made a decade later (1979). Her works were considered remarkable, with a National Book Award Nomination and other autobiographies following after: Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013). She has a list of incredibly moving poems you can find here

Not only was she a phenomenal writer, but she also supported the civil rights movement. Angelou raised funds for King’s Civil Rights Movement by staging Cabaret for Freedom, as well as directing other films, such as Down in the Delta in 1998, her directing debut. 

While she had a lack of college education, she was still referred to as Dr. Angelou and became a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2011 Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She received many awards and degrees ranging from her works to her accomplishments (around 50). 

While Maya Angelou has accomplished many things in her lifetime, a lot of people do not know who she is. Her popularity has dropped ever since her death and her awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but she must live on, for her works are so timeless.