#atozchallenge – Maya Angelou Inspires Me

Letter M Tattoo


My first introduction to Maya Angelou occurred when I was about 14. I discovered her autobiographical book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in my local library’s biography section. I was immediately struck by how strong a character young Maya was, the tragedies she endured, and how she used the love of literature to bridge a gap between racism and prejudice. I was just beginning to understand racism, prejudice and bigotry in those early teen years and her book helped me to see those issues through new eyes. It would be many years later before I was able to find anymore of her work, but I remember seeing her from time to time on television. She was a frequent guest on Oprah and I remember listening to her read On the Pulse of Morning at President Clinton’s inauguration. While I was at Hollins University, I was able to read her autobiographies Gather Together in My Name and The Heart of a Woman. Two of her poems, Phenomenal Women and Still I Rise had the greatest impact on my life. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Here is a video of Maya Angelou reciting Still I Rise:

Interesting facts: At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend, a man named Freeman. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, probably by Angelou’s uncles. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing, as she stated, “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone …” Angelou was awarded over fifty honorary degrees, receive the Spingarn Medal in 1994, the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. (source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

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