Who Was Maya Angelou? I Oxford Open Learning
Maya Angelou

Who Was Maya Angelou?

Maya Angelou is one of America’s most beloved poets and authors. She was born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up, she suffered from a number of traumas, including the rape she endured at age eight. Her experiences would shape her life’s work and inspire her to tell powerful stories through words.

Angelou attended California Labor School, a private progressive school in San Francisco, and began writing poetry at the young age of 14. She went on to become an acclaimed author, poet, playwright, dancer, and singer. She wrote seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Die.

Maya Angelou And The Civil Rights Movement

Angelou was a civil rights activist who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also a prolific performer, appearing in plays and television shows. In addition, she was a professor and mentor to students at Wake Forest University, where she taught for more than 30 years.

Angelou’s work often focuses on themes of racism, identity, and empowerment. She was known for her empowering messages and inspiring poems, such as her famous Phenomenal Woman. Her work touched the lives of countless people and continues to do so even after her death in 2014.

Phenomenal Woman

Phenomenal Woman is a powerful and inspiring celebration of female beauty and strength. Through her words, she conveys a strong sense of pride in being a woman and encourages other women to recognise their own unique beauty and power. The poem begins with a declaration of Angelou’s own physical beauty, describing her body as “curvy and more than ample.” She goes on to describe the admiration she receives from men and women alike, emphasizing that her beauty is not only physical but also comes from within. She then moves on to describe the inner strength and courage she has developed over the years, which she sees as the true source of her power. The poem ends with a call to action, urging women to embrace their own beauty and strength, and to recognise the power of their spirit. Angelou’s words are both empowering and inspiring, and serve as a reminder to women of the importance of recognizing their own beauty and power. Phenomenal Woman is an inspiring and uplifting poem that celebrates the beauty and strength of women everywhere.

Work Beyond Literature

In addition to her literary accomplishments, Maya Angelou was known for her activism and philanthropy. She was the first African American woman to win the National Book Award, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011. Angelou was a pioneer for African American literature and feminism. An inspiration to many, her work continues to leave a lasting legacy. She remains an icon of resilience and strength in the face of adversity. Her words of wisdom and courage still resonate with people today, and her life and work continue to inspire people around the world.

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