Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Maya Angelou
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(born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928) was an American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years. It brought her international recognition, and was nominated for a National Book Award. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie.

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  • ''There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women. It's as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. interview broadcast, Nov. 21, 1973. "A Conversation with Maya Angelou," Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989).
  • The white American man makes the white American woman maybe not superfluous but just a little kind of decoration. Not really important to turning around the wheels of the state. Well the black America...
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. interview, Nov. 21, 1973. "A Conversation with Maya Angelou," Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989).
  • Strictly speaking, one cannot legislate love, but what one can do is legislate fairness and justice. If legislation does not prohibit our living side by side, sooner or later your child will fall on t...
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American author and performer. As quoted in I Dream a World, by Brian Lanker (1989).
  • ...there is a difference between being convinced and being stubborn. I'm not certain what the difference is, but I do know that if you butt your head against a stone wall long enough, at some point yo...
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. As quoted in Reel Women, part 4, by Ally Acker (1991). Said in 1979, on giving up her attempt t...
  • ''...talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. Black Women Writers at Work, ch. 1, by Claudia Tate (1983).
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Comments about Maya Angelou

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Best Poem of Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? ...

Read the full of Still I Rise
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