Through her literature, public speaking and powerful writing, Maya Angelou inspired both women and African Americans to overcome gender and race discrimination.
Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Johnson, was raised in St. Louis, Missouri and Stamps, Arkansas by her grandmother Mrs Annie Henderson. Throughout her youth, Maya Angelou was faced with the difficulties of racial discrimination and often wrote about her experiences growing up. She recorded significant events in history through biographies, cookbooks, children’s books and essays and used her past experiences to tell empowering tales of courage and faith through many mediums, such as poetry, dance and acting.
Her courage inspired women at the time, and even women today, to be proud of who they are and that their voices should be heard. By revealing that she was raped as a child and refused to be seen as a victim, by sharing her story in her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she set the stage for the new generations of black women writers to tell their stories.
Angelou became one of the most prestigious and influential individuals of history and in 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her works that spanned over 50 years including 36 books, seven autobiographies and over 50 honorary degrees. Dr Maya Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, teacher, filmmaker, producer, actress, dramatist, historian, and unforgettably a civil rights activist.