Maya Angelou American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. Angelou’s poetry has influenced the modern hip-hop music community, including artists such as Kanye West, Common, Tupac Shakur, and Nicki Minaj.
Angelou received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009, published several collections of poetry. Her most famous was 1971’s collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Angelou had a difficult childhood. Her parents split up when she was very young, and she and her older brother, Bailey, were sent to live with their father’s mother, Anne Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas.
As an African American, Angelou experienced firsthand racial prejudices and discrimination in Arkansas. She also suffered at the hands of a family associate around the age of seven: During a visit with her mother, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Then, as vengeance for the sexual assault, Angelou’s uncles killed the boyfriend. So traumatized by the experience, Angelou stopped talking. She returned to Arkansas and spent years as a virtual mute.
In the mid-1950s, Angelou’s career as a performer began to take off. She landed a role in a touring production of Porgy and Bess, later appearing in the off-Broadway production Calypso Heat Wave (1957) and releasing her first album, Miss Calypso(1957).
In the late 1950’s Maya Angelou joined the Harlem Writer’s Guild. With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become [amazon_textlink asin=’1405882654′ text=’I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’pricetrak-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’a1401543-09a7-11e8-ab65-b7a3c8b48775′]. Published in 1970, received international acclaim made the bestseller list. The book was also banned in many schools during that time as Maya Angelou’s honesty about having been sexually abused opened a subject matter that had long been taboo in the culture. Later, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings would become a course adoption at college campuses around the world. With more than 30 bestselling titles, Maya Angelou has written 36 books.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Angelou’s birthday (April 4) in 1968. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers to King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years, until Coretta’s death in 2006.
Angelou was also good friends with TV personality Oprah Winfrey, who organized several birthday celebrations for the award-winning author, including a week-long cruise for her 70th birthday in 1998.
Top 25 Most Inspiring Maya Angelou Quotes
1.“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
2.“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
3.“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is to change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou
4.“When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.” – Maya Angelou
5.“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou
6.“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou
7.“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.” – Maya Angelou
8.“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou
9.“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” – Maya Angelou
10.“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou
11.“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” – Maya Angelou
12.“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” – Maya Angelou
13.“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou
14.“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” – Maya Angelou
15.“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
16.“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!” – Maya Angelou
17.“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” – Maya Angelou
18.“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” – Maya Angelou
19.“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” – Maya Angelou
20.“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” – Maya Angelou
21.“Life is a pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.” – Maya Angelou
22.“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” – Maya Angelou
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23.“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. – Maya Angelou
24.“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” – Maya Angelou
25.“The only thing you own is your story. Make sure it’s a good one.” – Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou inspired many to stay tall and keep on pushing harder regardless their past or their present circumstances. Share your story in the comments, where you would have needed more support or encouragement and how you found your way out of the situation by growing not just older but wiser through the experience.