Today we mourn the passing of a Phenomenal Woman (author/poet) Maya Angelou (86). Maya has touched the lives of many through her work and leaves behind a legacy.
Born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. In 1971, Angelou published the Pulitzer Prize-nominated poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die. She later wrote the poem “On the Pulse of Morning”—one of her most famous works—which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Angelou has received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.
Angelou has written several autobiographies throughout her career, including All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) and A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), but 1969’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings continues to be regarded as her most popular autobiographical work. She has also published several collections of poetry, including Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
One of Angelou’s most famous works is the poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she wrote especially for and recited at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony in January 1993—marking the first inaugural recitation since 1961, when Robert Frost delivered his poem “The Gift Outright” at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Angelou went on to win a Grammy Award (best spoken word album) for the audio version of the poem.
In 1995, Angelou was lauded for remaining on The New York Times’ paperback nonfiction best-seller list for two years—the longest-running record in the chart’s history.
Seeking new creative challenges, Angelou made her directorial debut in 1998 with Down in the Delta, starring Alfre Woodard. She has also written a number of inspirational works, from the essay collection Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1994) to her advice for young women in Letter to My Daughter (2008). Interested in health, Angelou has even published cookbooks, including Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories With Recipes (2005) and Great Food, All Day Long (2010).
Angelou’s career has seen numerous accolades, including the Chicago International Film Festival’s 1998 Audience Choice Award and a nod from the Acapulco Black Film Festival in 1999 for Down in the Delta; and two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, for her 2005 cookbook and 2008’s Letter to My Daughter.
Marguerite Annie Johnson. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 03:53, May 28, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/maya-angelou-9185388.
Marguerite Annie Johnson. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/maya-angelou-9185388 [Accessed 28 May 2014].
“Marguerite Annie Johnson.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 28 May 2014.