On 8th March, people around the world celebrated International Women’s Day and in honour of that, we dedicate this month’s blog post to the talented and inspiring, Maya Angelou.
“It has been said often that there are none so blind as those who will not see. There are people who go through life burdened by ignorance because they refuse to see. When they do not recognize the truth that they belong to their community and their community belongs to them … it is because they refuse to see.” - Maya Angelou
Born on April 4th, 1928, Maya Angelou was an African American woman who suffered a difficult childhood and early adulthood. Her experiences of discrimination, violence and extreme poverty in life would later inspire her to begin a series of autobiographies, the first of which (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) she published at age 41. The book, which covered Maya’s life up to age 17, tackled many traumatic events including sexual abuse and racism, but also featured moments of hope, joy, achievement and celebration. This first of several autobiographies, the book was a bestseller gaining her international acclaim. In fact, it has never been out of print.
Maya’s written works extended also to books of poetry and essays, leading her to be credited for a number of plays, films and televisions shows. Not only a writer, but also a Civil Rights activist, Maya became the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees and dozens of awards, including three Grammy awards for her spoken word albums.
On the Pulse of the Morning
In 1993, Maya was invited by President Clinton to read her poem, On the Pulse of the Morning at his inauguration. Her delivery of the powerful poem had a profound impact on those listening and watching from around the world. From that point onwards, Maya became somewhat of a celebrity poet and saw a huge spike in interest in her previously published work.
Take a look at her iconic recitation of On the Pulse of the Morning for yourself:
Maya died aged 86 on May 28th, 2014. She will always be revered and remembered as an African American woman who achieved so much in the literary community and influenced so many. In addition to the many awards and titles that Maya gained in her lifetime, she has often been described proudly as, “the black woman's poet laureate”. We think the title of her own poem, Phenomenal Woman is also a very fitting description….
Which women inspire you? We’d love to hear from you!