IntroductionMaya Angelou is, true to the title of her own poem, a “Phenomenal Woman.” Few people can say they have been a novelist, actress, singer, director, poet, and brothel madam, yet Angelou has filled all of these roles and many more. She was an integral part of the civil rights movement, working closely with both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. And as a survivor of poverty, familial discord, and a harrowing childhood, Angelou was able to turn her remarkable, tumultuous life into creative inspiration, particularly in the autobiographical work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which launched her career. Today, she is celebrated as one of the most notable African-American women of the twentieth century, yet her accomplishments cross lines of race, gender, sexuality, and culture.
- Though heralded for her writing, Angelou is no stranger to acting. She received a Tony nomination for her role in Look Away and an Emmy nomination for her performance in the landmark miniseries Roots.
- Following sexual abuse and murder in her family, Angelou was electively mute for several years of her childhood. She began speaking again at the age of 13.
- Maya Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. The only other poet to have performed at a presidential inauguration was Robert Frost, who read at Kennedy’s.
- Despite numerous honorary degrees and academic engagements, Maya Angelou does not have a college education.
- In August 2006, Angelou received the Mother Teresa Award “for her untiring devotion and service to humanity.”
All Resources by Category
- All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
- American Ethnic Writers
- Critical Survey of Short Fiction
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Criticism
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Identities and Issues
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Masterplot
- Maya Angelou - Critical Survey of Poetry
- Maya Angelou Criticism
- Maya Angelou Poetry Criticism
- All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes Book Review
- I Shall Not Be Moved Book Review
- Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now Book Review
- All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes Study Guide (quickNotes)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Study Guide (eNotes)
- The Heart of a Woman Study Guide (quickNotes)
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