“When people show you who they are, believe them.” This is just one of the many powerful statements uttered by Ms. Maya Angelou, the renowned African-American author, poet, playwright, director and actress.
She is the second poet in U.S. history to recite a piece during the presidential inauguration. She also worked as a teacher and a public speaker, and has received more than 50 honorary degrees. Her work as a civil rights activist is famously associated with Martin Luther King Jr. and her collaboration with 20th Century Fox made her the first black woman director and producer.
She traveled often and at one time, worked as a journalist in Africa. These experiences exposed her to different cultures and languages- six of which she spoke fluently. It was also a chance to meet and connect with people – every person had a story to be told.
Her literary works include seven autobiographies, the most famous of which is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings published in 1969. In the book, Angelou opens up about her childhood and early adult life, making her the first African-American woman to share her life story so publicly, one that involved extreme poverty and abuse.
Ms. Angelou emitted a sense of strength, determination and authenticity both in her writing and personality. She had the courage to expose her vulnerability and the lessons she learned through her writing and speeches, and rose above and beyond her circumstances to create a remarkable life.
She was a woman with a strong sense of self, and a wonderful sense of humor. Ms. Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86, and even then, she was still learning new things. Her legacy is not just in her literature and poetry, for which she was honored with a Pulitzer Prize, but also thanks to her incredible insight on the human experience.
Words of Maya Angelou:
‘’When you know better, you do better.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”