Friday, June 13, 2014

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

Maya Angelou, writer, civil rights activist and academic, died Wednesday, May 28 at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. at the age of 86. A prolific writer, poet, dancer, director, Angelou’s first  book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” led to volumes of poetry, essays, picture books, 5 more autobiographies and one cookbook. Growing up in the South, Angelou writes of the differences between whites and blacks in the United States during her lifetime.

She holds the distinction of writing the first black woman’s memoir and opened the door for Toni Morrison and Alice Walker’s works. After time in Africa, Martin Luther King asked her to serve as northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She reached for the skies, writing the inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” for President Clinton’s 1993 Inaugural.

Maya had a child at 17 while in high school, keeping her pregnancy hidden for 8 months from her parents, who welcomed Little Clyde.  She graduated from an arts high school, took care of her child and held jobs ranging from cocktail waitress to short order cook to dancer.  She danced with Alvin Ailey and toured in “Porgy and Bess” moving to Broadway in 1973 to portray Mary Todd Lincoln in “Look Away”

In the NHTI Library’s book display, you will find many of her works.  Stop in to borrow one and savor her words.