The things That Make Maya Angelou Special...
The Effects she had On the World
As an author, poet and speaker, Maya Angelou has shined a light on a world of prejudice, injustice and poverty unfamiliar to many Americans. Through a series of six autobiographies, including the critically acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings published in 1970, Angelou inspired readers with her own transformation from victim of racism to empowered young woman. Through writing and speaking to audiences around the globe, she continues to admonish people to reach their fullest potential.
“I think always the moments which challenge you most are probably the ones which have the greatest lifetime importance,” she says.
Following a childhood of struggle and sorrow, including rape at the age of 7, Angelou was an unmarried 17-year-old when she gave birth to a son. But motherhood was the impetus for achievement.
“To improve myself and him and his life, I studied. I began to really be careful about what I was doing and how well I was doing it. I had always been a reader—I just became a deeper reader. I made a bee path to the libraries. I educated myself because I wanted him to have some answers,” she says. “That was the greatest single impact on my life.”
Angelou traveled the world, acted, danced, sang, composed music and wrote plays. She became fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic and West African Fanti. She worked with civil rights activists Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Angelou’s self-directed education helped her see beyond the hatred and prejudice that could have shaped her worldview. “In so many ways it helped me to know that the world did not end at my front door, nor at the borderline of my state, nor even at the United States—and that human beings are more alike than we are unalike,” she says. “All of that liberated me from some of the ignorance that can make a person mean and cruel and prejudiced and stupid. Education has helped me understand that this is my world, but no more mine than yours.”
That knowledge helped Angelou find her place in the world—which is anywhere she wants to be. “Being a human gave me the right to look for the larger life, the biggest life a human being can have. That I was black or 6-feet tall or female or poor growing up had nothing to do with the fact that I’m a human being,” she says. “There’s nobody beneath me and nobody above me on the rate of being a human being.
“Success is liberation. I’m free from the ties with which ignorance binds us. I’m free from that. I don’t dislike any group of people. I can be proud of the action of a stranger. I can be happy for the success of a person I’ve never shaken hands with. I’m free.”
Today, Angelou, 81, is a professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Though she never graduated from college, she holds 30 honorary degrees and takes pride in being called “Dr. Angelou.” Now working on a cookbook, she recently wrote lyrics to accompany music by Michael Feinstein.
Angelou says there is much she wants to do. Asked what she could possibly add to her brimming list of accomplishments, “Everything!” she responds heartily. “I can hardly sleep.”
Adjectives to Describe Maya Angelou...
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A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Maya Angelou quotes and sayings Living a life is like constructing a building: if you start wrong, you'll end wrong. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings The honorary duty of a human being is to love. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings The needs of society determine its ethics. Maya Angelou, quotes & sayings
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition -- about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns all clean. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it allows me to survive, and better than that, to thrive with passion, compassion, and style. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings The main thing in one's own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry. Maya AngelouIf you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure. Maya Angelou, quotes and sayings Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable. Maya Angelou, "Strong women quotes and Sayings"
Events that changed Angelou`s Life
As an African American, Angelou experienced firsthand racial prejudices and discrimination in Arkansas. She also suffered at the hands of a family associate around the age of seven. During a visit with her mother, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. Her uncles killed the boyfriend for the sexual assault. So traumatized by the experience, Angelou stopped talking. She returned to Arkansas and spent years as a virtual mute.
During World War II, Angelou moved to San Francisco. There she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the Labor School. Angelou worked for a time as the first female African American cable car conductor. In 1944, the 16-year-old future literary icon gave birth to her son Guy. Angelou worked a number of jobs to support herself and her son.