Women’s History Month Spotlight: Maya Angelou

Remembering a few of of the amazing accomplishments of a Phenomenal Woman.

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, was a renowned American poet. At age 16, after having dropped out of school, she was the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco. In the 1950s she danced in Porgy and Bess, a nationwide tour of George Gershwin’s opera about American poverty and racism. She even wrote Hallmark greeting cards, saying “If I’m America’s poet, or one of them, then I want to be in people’s hands…people who would never buy a book.”

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts. Though she never went to college, she received over fifty honorary degrees. She was a friend of Malcom X and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. She spoke six languages and worked as an editor in both Egypt and Ghana.

Maya Angelou 2

Most remarkably, she was a self-made woman. As Oprah Winfrey, a dear friend of hers said “She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace.” Perhaps Angelou’s own words best detail the legacy she’s left behind:

“Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.”

 

A more thorough history can be found at mayaangelou.com.



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