Maya Angelou (1928 - present) Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Among her volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (Random House, 1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.
In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East, and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. She accepted a lifetime appointment in 1981 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, "On The Pulse of the Morning," at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton at his request.
The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries "Three Way Choice." She has also written and produced several prize-winning documentaries, including "Afro-Americans in the Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Maya Angelou was twice nominated for a Tony award for acting: once for her Broadway debut in Look Away (1973), and again for her performance in Roots (1977). Maya Angelou Biography from Poets.org
Poems By Maya Angelou
1: A Conceit
8: Passing Time
12: Still I Rise
13: The Detached
14: The Lesson
16: They Went Home
18: Weekend Glory
19: When You Come
20: Woman Work+ View All Poems
Quotes By Maya Angelou
"A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning's greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications. Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent."
"Achievement brings its own anticlimax."
"All great achievements require time."
"All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened."
"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."
"As far as I knew white women were never lonely, except in books. White men adored them, Black men desired them and Black women worked for them."
"At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice."
"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean."
"Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives."
"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage."
"Education helps one case cease being intimidated by strange situations."
"Effective action is always unjust."
"For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place."
"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"
"I am overwhelmed by the grace and persistence of my people."
"I answer the heroic question "Death, where is they sting?" with "It is here in my heart and mind and memories.""
"I believe that every person is born with talent."
"I believe we are still so innocent. The species are still so innocent that a person who is apt to be murdered believes that the murderer, just before he puts the final wrench on his throat, will have enough compassion to give him one sweet cup of water."
"I find it interresting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed."
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."
"If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities."
"If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die."
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
"If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded."
"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers."
"It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength."
"Life loves the liver of it."
"Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ''I'm with you kid. Let's go.''"
"Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise."
"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness."
"My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return."
"My life has been one great big joke, a dance that's walked a song that's spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself."
"My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors."
"Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, "I'm going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway.""
"Nothing will work unless you do."
"Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaken need for an unshakable God."
"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
"Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."
"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable."
"Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence - neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish - it is an imponderably valuable gift."
"Some critics will write 'Maya Angelou is a natural writer' - which is right after being a natural heart surgeon."
"Something made greater by ourselves and in turn that makes us greater."
"The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerance. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance."
"The need for change bulldozed road down the center of my mind."
"The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education."
"The sadness of the women's movement is that they don't allow the necessity of love. See, I don't personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed."
"There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it."
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
"There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing."
"There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth."
"We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color."
"We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders."
"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."
"While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation."
"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning."