Maya Angelou is an American public figure who changed the face of literary history. Born in 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, she began her life as a fry cook, a nightclub dancer and performer before turning to writing and publishing several memoirs and poems.
Because of the hardships she endured during her childhood, suffering from abuse at the age of eight and becoming a mute for five years, and experiencing racial discrimination in the town where she lived (Arkansas), she believed she had a story to tell and poignantly wrote in her first memoir that: “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou is mostly known for her series of six autobiographies that start with ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing’ considered her most noticeable work and which was nominated for a National Book Award. The book also made literary history, as it was the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.
On the other hand, her volume of poetry ‘Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die’ was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Another one of her most noticeable works is the poem ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ that she wrote for Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony in 1993 and recited at the time.
She was also a civil rights activist, a member of Harlem Writers Guild and a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. Up until her death in 2014, she remained an influential public figure and is regarded today as one of the most inspirational woman of her time and a legacy in black American culture.
Finally, if there was one great advice we learned from this multifaceted talent, it would be to: ‘pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.’