Maya Angelou

American Poet

(1928 – 2014)

(Pic taken from Deadline.com)

I remember the first time I ever saw Maya Angelou was watching an Oprah show and Maya was talking about something on the show (it was a while back so I don’t remember what she was talking about). I remember being struck by how she spoke. She has this calmness about her that also made me feel calm and I felt that I could listen to her for hours.

“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.”

– Maya Angelou

I then went on to search Google about who she is and I have been a fan ever since. Maya was not only an award-winning poet but she was also a civil rights activist, an author of her own memoir ‘I know why the caged bird sings’, an actress, screenwriter and dancer.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

– Maya Angelou

She is well known for her brilliant and insightful quotes and how she viewed life. Her poetry was exceptional and thought provoking. Maya was born on the 4th of April 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. She was born into a difficult life where her parents left each other and her and her brother were sent to stay with her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

– Maya Angelou

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In Arkansas, she experienced first hand, racial prejudices and discrimination due to her being an African American. At the tender age of 7 she was also raped by her mother’s boyfriend and then her uncles took revenge and killed him. Due to this extremely traumatizing experience, Maya stopped talking for about five years.

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

– Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou has accomplished many things in her life and has received many accolades even though life seemed to be against her when she was young. Her life may not have started out great but it definitely ended great and that was because she didn’t allow it to get her down anymore than it already had.

“You may not control the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

– Maya Angelou
(From ohsu.edu)

A few quick facts about this brilliant woman; she wrote 36 books and also published cookbooks. She was the first black San Francisco cable car conductor. Maya recited a poem at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993 and marking the first recitation since 1961. Her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. Maya Angelou was lauded in 1995 for her record-setting, two-year run on The New York Times’ paperback nonfiction bestseller list (Wow! What an achievement!). Maya Angelou was the first African American woman to have her screenplay produced, for the 1972 film Georgia. MLK Jr. and Maya were friends and he was assassinated on her birthday in 1968. Maya stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward. In 1952, she married a Greek sailor named Anastasios Angelopulos, from whom she took her professional name.

“I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”

– Maya Angelou
This is my favourite photo of her (From sfgate.com)

Still I Rise

By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise?
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

What a powerful poem! It brings tears to my eyes. Such a powerful woman of God that stood up for her beliefs and principles. Maya Angelou is definitely someone that I look up to and the world lost a little of its colour when she passed on. Thank you for the beauty that you brought to this world Maya Angelou! You will always be remembered!

(Most of the information in this blog came from the site Biography.com which is where you can find a more in depth look at Maya Angelou’s life and accomplishments)

That’s it from me for now…

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