Maya Angelou''s Life Reflected In Her Writings

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Maya Angelou''s life reflected in her writings


Maya Angelou is a very triumphant woman. She has written many books and poems that have given her great success. If one would talk to her, he or she would think she has leaded a normal, happy life. Her life is blissful now, but it wasn't always perfect. Maya Angelou's sorrowful life experiences inspired her to write autobiographical works of poetry. (Herber, 65-76)Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis. She was raised in a segregated rural town in Arkansas. She came from a broken home. Angelou was raped at eight, and was an unwed mother at 16 years old (Williams 1). In spite of her tragic childhood, she still managed to become one of the greatest black poets of the twentieth century (Williams 1). Angelou is a poet, an author, a historian, an actress, a playwright, a civil-rights activist, a producer, and a director. Maya Angelou began her career in drama and dance. She married a South African freedom fighter and lived in Cairo. Later she also taught in Ghana. In the 1960's she said that being black, female, non-Muslim, non-Arab, six foot tall, and American made for some interesting experiences during her stay in Africa (Williams 1). Maya Angelou has accomplished many things in her life. She was the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also appointed to the Bicentennial Commission by President Gerald Ford, the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year by Jimmy Carter, and in 1993 she wrote and delivered the presidential inauguration for President Bill Clinton. (Herber, 65-76)


Exceedingly tall and gangly, with knappy black hair, the young Angelou desperately wished to be a petite white woman.  Her physical awkwardness caused her to be a relative introvert, constantly reading and focusing on her educational development. Angelou's academic determination reflected the maturity she possessed as a result of her endurance of multitudinous hardships. Not only was she brutally punished for wrong doings with an unforgiving leather belt, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was visiting family. (Herber, 65-76)Despite various emotional scars, Angelou persevered and, upon graduating from Lafayette County Training School in 1940, moved back to San Francisco, California to live with her mother. At age sixteen, searching for love and reassurance, she became pregnant by a relative stranger and was forced to graduate from high school on an accelerated program, allowing her to get a job and support herself and her son, Guy. She worked as a waitress, a cook, a nightclub singer, and a dancer before she was introduced to John Killens, an author who read some of her work and coerced her to move to Harlem, New York. He then convinced her to join the Harlem Writers Guild, an alliance of African-American writers who shared and criticized one another's work. (Herber, 65-76)Angelou is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary black ...
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