Maya Angelou

American poet, author, and civil rights activist

Watch "Still I Rise," a filmic interpretation of the poem by Maya Angelou. Best of Fest Winner in the 2018 MY HERO International Film Festival.

Still I Rise

Gabriel Diamond, Patrick Barnes, Phil Collis
A visual and musical interpretation of American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s electrifying poem "Still I Rise."

Maya Angelou was at the height of her career when she was invited to recite "On the Pulse of Morning" at the first inauguration of US President William J Clinton. But even as far back as her humble beginnings, Maya Angelou realized she had an important story to tell, one that would resonate with African Americans and women.

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.

Maya Angelou: One Who Turned Her Life into an Inspiration

By: Chloe Lee

"By writing her thoughts into a book, Angelou illuminated the subject of under-appreciated Black women all over the world and became their voice."

Maya Angelou

By: Malak Saad

"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."

Text with Audio: Listen and Read Along

Professional writer Susannah Abbey discusses her hero.

Maya Angelou

By: Susannah Abbey

"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. 

Maya Angelou

By: Sergio Benenson


Still I Rise

By: Tod Anderson



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