Get a Real and Rare Glimpse into History with the Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou was born the same year as my Dad - 1928 - which makes her very special to me.At this writing, she passed away on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86.
It is impossible to describe her in one word, since she carries many names: “one of the great voices of contemporary literature, poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director”.
This incredible female icon has won several honorary doctorates as well as numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, Langston Hughes Medal and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.
I recently published a tribute to my father, Cuthbert Emmanuel Vincent BEM, and since I am still in remembrance mode, I want to focus on Dr. Maya Angelou’s seven (7) autobiographies, since they hold the key to a collective past that will forever be recorded not only for Dr. Maya Angelou, but for all those who lived in her era and will never have a voice.
Dr. Angelou’s autobiographies, which she wrote between 1969 and 2013, chronicle her life and experiences from 1928 to 2013. That’s 85 years of history! We see them through the eyes of a woman who has travelled the globe and shares her experiences both at home, in the USA, and abroad.
This collection comprises the following 7 autobiographies:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- : covers her life from age 3 through to age 16
- (1931 - 1944)
- , when she becomes a teenage mother. Deep seated issues such as “identity, rape, racism, and literacy” are covered within.
- Gather Together in My Name
- : treats with the years from 1944 to1948. In summary, it "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime."
- Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas
- : She focuses her on life from age 21 to about 27 (1949–1955); her budding entertainment career, her motherhood, her travels to Europe, as well as other general issues about “music, race and conflict”.
- The Heart of a Woman
- : covers 5 years in her early 30s (1957–1962).She takes us on her travels with in the US and Africa (Cairo and Ghana), her debut as a published author, her active involvement in the US civil rights movement and her “romantic involvement with a South African freedom fighter.”
- All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
- : she shares with us life in her late 30s; her life as an expatriate in Accra, Ghana, her struggles as a mother and her grappling with her African ancestry and African-American identity.
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven
- : written in 2002 and covering the period 1965 to 1968, “Two "calamitous events" frame the beginning and end of the book - the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and she describes how she dealt with these events and the sweeping changes in both the country [USA] and in her personal life, and how she coped with her return home.”
- Wikipedia, A Song Flung Up To Heaven
- Mom & Me & Mom
- : written 2013, I think it really wonderful that she was able to write this final chapter in her own life, just 1 year before her passing. I would say it ‘comes full circle’ because it treats with her source of life, her mother, her resentment towards her for abandoning them as children, her eventual reconciliation with her mother and the help and support she received from her mother in later year with various aspects of her life including her motherhood and career.
What I like best about her autobiographies is that none of her experiences are sugar-coated. She tells “the good, the bad and the ugly” just as it was in every period of her life. So, although some details may make you uncomfortable, for me they do two (2) hugely significant things for all mankind:
- 1. They keep us all in check, so that we never repeat the atrocities of the past.
- 2. They remind us to be conscious about how we treat all people, lest one day we become the victims.
It’s not all heavy stuff, though, there are things to smile, chuckle and laugh about as well.
When we in life have been blessed with greatness, in the form of Dr. Maya Angelou, then it is our duty to preserve the memories and pass them on to our children and children’s children etc., so that we never have to read in our history that which was written of the Joseph and the Israelites in the Bible, “Then a new king, who knew nothing about Joseph, came to power in Egypt…and made [the Israelites] lives miserable by forcing them into cruel slavery” (Exodus 1:8).
So keep Dr. Maya Angelou’s words, experiences and her stories from her era alive in your own family and someone else’s family by purchasing a copy of this collection of her seven (7) very powerful autobiographies.
With all that I have said, though, Dr. Maya Angelou says it best, “All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
I URGE YOU to watch the videos that I have selected for you. There's plenty wisdom for you to enjoy your life to the fullest!
Dr. Maya Angelou was such a gracious woman and I love seeing and hearing her read her poems. They really come to life.
I have created that sacred space that she talks about in my own life, and so I can very much relate to the advice that Dr. Angelou shares here. I really consider it superb advice for everyone no matter their age!
As someone who strives to be a good a good Christian, I really love this enlightened piece from her. Spoken with such wisdom!
Great advice for how to AGE GRACEFULLY!!!
And just in case, you want to experience another side of Dr. Maya Angelou, then I highly recommend this complete collection of her poems. She was also an accomplished poet and she won the Quill Award for Poetry with her poem titled ‘Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem’.
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