Maya Angelou Biography Essay Example


This month we are celebrating our lady leaders in literature. Maya Angelou was an influential poet, whos writing showed her joy and pride as well as her sufferings with the world.  On top of being a poet Maya was also a memoirist, novelist, educator, historian, actress, dramatist, dancer, producer, civil rights activist, and filmmaker. She defined the hardships of being an African American woman in a rough time in history.  Maya was and still is an inspiration because of her pride in her writing and in her heritage. 

Maya Angelou showed much of her pride and her sufferings in her writing, especially because of her hard past. When she was only three years old her parents divorced and she and her brother had to move to Stamps, Arkansas with their grandmother, where there was much racial discrimination. Then, in 1935 they returned back to the care of their mother. Two years later, Maya was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend. This severely traumatized her and caused her not to speak for five and a half years. Maya thought her voice killed the man because he turned up dead a couple days later. This tragic experience made some of her poem´s themes about domestic violence and sexual abuse. Such as poems: ¨Born this way¨ and ¨ To beat a child is bad enough¨.

Maya influenced many women by overcoming hardships of being an African American in a rough time in history.  Her memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”,  records her experience of her childhood and her struggle to overcome racism in the deep south. Also a whirlwind of experiences in her teenage years like drop-outs, pregnancies, and abuse. In all of her downfall, she managed to earn a scholarship to study dance and acting, become the first female conductor, and work numerous jobs to support her and her child.  Maya said, “ I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being”. 

Maya wasn’t only known for her breathtaking writing, she was known for being a civil rights activist. After spending time in Egypt and Ghana, Maya worked as a freelance writer and became close with human rights. She also helped Malcolm X set up an organization of the Afro-American unity. But a year after their return to the US, in 1964, the organization got dispersed after his assassination.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a friend of Maya’s and a strong social activist who fought for civil rights, was also assassinated on her birthday Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward. Maya still lived on their legacy by fighting social and racial injustice just like they did.

In conclusion, I believe Maya Angelou was and still is the most influential ladies in literature. Maya showed much of her experiences and suffering in her writings which shaped most of her poems. Also Maya influenced many women by overcoming many hardships not only as an African American but as a woman. Her poems “Woman Work”, “Phenomenal Woman” and “I Still Rise”, shows how she takes a stand for woman. Last but not least, Maya was a strong civil activist who carried on legacies of other strong civil rights activist. Overall Maya Angelou brought attention to sexism and activism, while becoming one of the best poets of all time.

 

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