Maya Angelou, through her powerful writings, has inspired generations of women, African Americans and all people who struggle to overcome prejudice, discrimination and abuse.
Throughout her life, Angelou has defied social norms. After being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she withdrew and was mute for five years. However, encouraged by her grandmother, who introduced her to literature, she gradually emerged as a talented artist.
Angelou was a Renaissance woman on many levels, treating life as a smorgasbord to be fully experienced then reporting it to inspire others to reach beyond damaging stereotypes. Her
seven volumes of autobiography entail a remarkable life in the arts, diplomacy, travel, and activism.
In 1954, Angelou turned to acting before she started writing while also working as northern coordinator and fund raiser for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the 1960s, Angelou began to focus on her writing and, in 1970, her first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, became a best seller and was nominated for a National Book Award.
Angelou’s writings have altered society for the better, bringing greater diversity into the theater and literature. Her autobiographical works provide powerful insights into the evolution of black women in the 20th century. In 1971, she became the first black woman to have a screenplay produced as a film — Georgia, Georgia. Her writings have brought her numerous awards and have been nominated for a Tony Award, an Emmy Award and a Pulitzer Prize.
Maya Angelou, died in 2014