Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Poet, civil rights activist, actress, author

visit websiteposted by: Alison Leslie
published: 26th November 2017
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Maya Angelou was a poet and award-winning author known for her acclaimed memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her numerous poetry and essay collections.

Marguerite Annie Johnson Angelou (April 4, 1928 to May 28, 2014), known as Maya Angelou, was an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. Angelou received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.

Angelou published several collections of poetry, but 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.

One of her most famous works, Angelou wrote this poem especially for and recited at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony in January 1993. The occasion marked the first inaugural recitation since 1961, when Robert Frost delivered his poem “The Gift Outright” at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Angelou went on to win a Grammy Award (best spoken word album) for the audio version of the poem.

Friend and fellow writer James Baldwin urged Angelou to write about her life experiences, resulting in the enormously successful 1969 memoir about her childhood and young adult years, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The poignant story made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

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Related Articles:

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Growing Up Maya Angelou
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