She was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1928. After a series of occupations including kitchen worker, sex worker, performer and journalist, she became a writer and a poet and joined the Harlem Writers Guild. In 1970, she published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography of her life up to the age of 17. This book received international acclaim and would ultimately become required reading at college campuses all over the world.
Her poem "Still I Rise" is recited because it emphasizes determination and persistence in the face of adversity, two characteristics that best describe Maya Angelou herself. Because of her significant contribution to the field of literature--7 autobiographies, 3 books of essays, and numerous poetry collections, plays and screenplays--in 1982 Ms. Angelou was appointed the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina for life.
Teachers: Visit the free MY HERO Lesson Plan for Maya Angelou. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.
These hero stories were written by students from Del Norte High School.
"By writing her thoughts into a book, Angelou illuminated the subject of under-appreciated Black women all over the world and became their voice."
"Throughout her writing, Ms. Angelou explored the concepts of personal identity and resilience through the multifaceted lens of race, sex, family, community and the collective past."
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Professional writer Susannah Abbey discusses her hero.
"Her latest book, "Even the Stars Look Lonesome," contains this observation: 'The strength of the Black American to withstand the slings and arrows and lynch mobs and malignant neglect can be traced directly to the arts of literature.'"
The legacy of Maya Angelou is one of courage and civil rights activism. Her work has influenced art in a variety of ways from portraiture to mixed-media. Below, two artists reimagine the impact Angelou had on the literary world through the visual arts. Sergio Benson's portrait of Angelou not only shows her humanity, but her intrinsic curiosity of people. The visual representation of Angelou's groundbreaking "Still I Rise", by Todd Anderson, conveys the theme of perseverance the reader gains from the poem. Each artist explores Angelou's talent through their respective artistic styles.
Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year
Organizer created on 3/27/2019 5:12:35 PM by Xenia Shin
Last edited 3/30/2020 5:04:22 PM by Shannon Luders-Manuel