Today In Literary History: Maya Angelou

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April gives us one of the most important literary female figures that has contributed to the minds and hearts of many readers. This fierce female was known as Maya Angelou. She was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou was victim to many hardships throughout her life, from having to drop out of dance and drama school as a young teenage girl, to giving birth to her son and raising him on her own. A single, young, African-American woman in this racially discriminating time was unheard of, and frowned upon by many.

Angelou would eventually reach success with the publication of her best-selling novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This book is a part of the banned books list in schools due to the amount of writing about controversial subjects, such as the sexual abuse that she endured. However, her strong voice in this novel is what inspired so many readers because of her confidence in talking about this difficult issue. Angelou would become apart of many dance productions and join many human rights organizations. She was highly involved in the civil rights movements, coordinating with Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Maya Angelou earned many degrees and awards during her lifetime for her bravery and her work in civil rights. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama. Angelou continues to inspire many through her quotes and the legacy she left behind.

Maya Angelou at The Carolina Theater, in Greensboro, NC, September, 2008. Photo by Rusty Darbonne, used by attribution license. View more of Rusty's work at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustydarbonne/.

Maya Angelou at The Carolina Theater, in Greensboro, NC, September, 2008. Photo by Rusty Darbonne, used by attribution license. View more of Rusty’s work at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rustydarbonne/.

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