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Quotes by Maya Angelou:Life of the Original Phenomenal Woman
The Many Faces & Quotes of Maya AngelouClick thumbnail to view full-size
Maya Angelou - Her Life as a Survivor
Indeed, this Phenomenal Woman, Dr. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis Missouri. Her parents divorced shortly thereafter and she and her younger brother went to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Although she experienced blatant racial discrimination, she credits her Grandmother with providing a stable, nurturing home that blessed her with a good moral compass in years to come. Tragically, during a visit with her Mother, young Maya was sexually assaulted by her Mother's boyfriend. After confiding in her brother, her Mother's boyfriend was later killed, some concluded by an uncle, however Maya blamed herself for saying anything at all about the incident and stopped speaking entirely until she was about 13 years old and rejoined her Mother in San Francisco.
Maya seemed to thrive in this environment, attending Mission High School and then went on to win a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor School. Her interest in politics and activism grew as well, becoming San Francisco's first Afro-American female cable car conductor. Not long after graduating high school, she welcomed the birth of her son, Guy, becoming a hard working single Mother, but never losing sight of her aspirations to further her education and her performing career.
In In 1952, Maya Angelou married briefly, and although the marriage did not last, her career as a performer was finally realized when she recorded her first record album, "Calypso Lady". By the end of the 1950s, her skills as a gifted writer were apparent and she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild. In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. She read and studied continuously, learning French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti.
When Maya Angelou returned to the United States in 1964 she was still active in the Civil Rights Movement, and working more closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ironically, his assassination fell on her birthday in 1968, and left her devastated. With the support of her dear friend, novelist James Baldwin, Maya found solace in her writing, and began work on the book that would become "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". The poem that is so dear to my heart tells the story of her life from childhood to the birth of her child.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Angelou’s highly acclaimed 1970 autobiography, was my own introduction to Maya Angelou's poetic brilliance. It was 1977 when my Mother sent me a copy of this work which still holds special meaning to me. Inspiring my own writing and never ending collection of inanimate birds, caged and otherwise, their presence represents varying degrees of freedom and how we tend to cage ourselves sometimes unknowingly, lacking the courage to break free. Maya Angelou's words brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart as I read about the amazing journey of a young woman who overcame a childhood rape, made a pilgrimage to Africa, served as a civil rights activist and became a shining example of self-determination that she continues to practice.
She is an influential poet, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Some of her famous quotes that I have tried to capture here are brutally honest, enraged and inspiring, professing survival at whatever cost, and challenges readers to do the same. I hope you find her life and her attitude as refreshing as I have. Please feel free to share any additional quotes or comments if you like. They are always welcome!