Apr. 4, 1928, the world was blessed with the birth of Maya Angelou. Born in St. Louis, MO, it wouldn’t take her long to start her career that would span over 50 years in poetry, music, film, and the Civil Rights Movement until her unfortunate death on May 28, 2014.
In honor of March being National Women’s History Month, there have been several women that have contributed to our history to elevate society to greater heights. Dr. Angelou spoke to millions through her words and for us, her words were what we needed to cling on to what hope we still had during her reigning era.
If you don’t know, Dr. Maya Angelou was a famous American poet. She’s well known for pieces such as “Still I Rise,” “Phenomenal Woman” and “Alone.” She’s also given us groundbreaking novels such as her still captivating autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and collections of original poems with “And Still I Rise” as well as “Even The Stars Look Lonesome.”
Although Dr. Angelou was a phenomenal writer, she was also an activist during the Civil Rights Movement. After being inspired by hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at a Harlem church, Dr. Angelou alongside actors Hugh Hurd and Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge organized fund-raising for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
If that wasn’t enough, Angelou continued her work with the movement and helped raise resources that allowed King and others to organize the famous protests we all know of today against the Jim Crow laws.
Therefore, Dr. Angelou is part of the reason why we were able to see change with segregation and racism that plagued our society for decades. She was able to combine her prolific words and admirable eagerness for change to contribute to our history.
If you know me as a writer, then you understand how deeply Dr. Angelou plays a part in my style of writing. She’s the reason I became a writer. The first book I’ve ever picked up and could never put down was her autobiography. Her storytelling and recollection of her life was so touching and moving, and her technique jumped off the page.
The first set of poetry I’ve ever fully read through was Dr. Angelou’s “Even The Stars Look Lonesome.” I remember her in Tyler Perry films and sometimes I watch her speeches or interviews when I need a little extra motivation. I study her, not to be just like her but to recognize the capacity of greatness I have to look forward to myself in the future.
After over 50 years of novels, film, songs and activism Dr. Angelou still lives on through writers such as myself and through the industry. You can’t have a conversation about literature without bringing up the impeccable Maya Angelou. She’s a part of women’s history and her legacy is set in stone for eternity. That’s why it was a must that she’d be the first under our spotlight. Thank you, Dr. Angelou.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.