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Quotes by Maya Angelou:Life of the Original Phenomenal Woman

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Maya Angelou - Her Life as a Survivor

Indeed, this Phenomenal Woman, Dr. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis Missouri. Her parents divorced shortly thereafter and she and her younger brother went to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Although she experienced blatant racial discrimination, she credits her Grandmother with providing a stable, nurturing home that blessed her with a good moral compass in years to come. Tragically, during a visit with her Mother, young Maya was sexually assaulted by her Mother's boyfriend. After confiding in her brother, her Mother's boyfriend was later killed, some concluded by an uncle, however Maya blamed herself for saying anything at all about the incident and stopped speaking entirely until she was about 13 years old and rejoined her Mother in San Francisco.

Maya seemed to thrive in this environment, attending Mission High School and then went on to win a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor School. Her interest in politics and activism grew as well, becoming San Francisco's first Afro-American female cable car conductor. Not long after graduating high school, she welcomed the birth of her son, Guy, becoming a hard working single Mother, but never losing sight of her aspirations to further her education and her performing career.

In In 1952, Maya Angelou married briefly, and although the marriage did not last, her career as a performer was finally realized when she recorded her first record album, "Calypso Lady". By the end of the 1950s, her skills as a gifted writer were apparent and she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild. In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. She read and studied continuously, learning French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti.

When Maya Angelou returned to the United States in 1964 she was still active in the Civil Rights Movement, and working more closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ironically, his assassination fell on her birthday in 1968, and left her devastated. With the support of her dear friend, novelist James Baldwin, Maya found solace in her writing, and began work on the book that would become "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". The poem that is so dear to my heart tells the story of her life from childhood to the birth of her child.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Angelou’s highly acclaimed 1970 autobiography, was my own introduction to Maya Angelou's poetic brilliance. It was 1977 when my Mother sent me a copy of this work which still holds special meaning to me. Inspiring my own writing and never ending collection of inanimate birds, caged and otherwise, their presence represents varying degrees of freedom and how we tend to cage ourselves sometimes unknowingly, lacking the courage to break free. Maya Angelou's words brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart as I read about the amazing journey of a young woman who overcame a childhood rape, made a pilgrimage to Africa, served as a civil rights activist and became a shining example of self-determination that she continues to practice.

She is an influential poet, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Some of her famous quotes that I have tried to capture here are brutally honest, enraged and inspiring, professing survival at whatever cost, and challenges readers to do the same. I hope you find her life and her attitude as refreshing as I have. Please feel free to share any additional quotes or comments if you like. They are always welcome!

And Still I Rise

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Kathy (author) from California on September 06, 2011:

Thank you Dee, I can not believe you were able to see her in person! What a delight that must have been. She is so incredible! To read her poetry and listen to her talk I feel like she knows how I and all women feel inside.... and when you consider all that she has overcome - my life is a bowl of cherries in comparison.

Thank you so much for reading and for commenting! Good to hear from you.

Dee aka Nonna on September 06, 2011:

I was looking around hubpages reading and admiring the works of others and I ran across this about Maya Angelou. I've read, I believe, everything she has written and published and the more I read the more I fall in love with this incredibly talented full of wisdom. I've had the priveledge of seeing her and listening to her wisdom in person on 3 different occasions.....being in her presence is a glorious experience... I enjoyed reading this very, very much.

Kathy (author) from California on July 21, 2011:

My dearest friend Epi - I do hope that you and Mr. Floyd aren't doing too much damage under the summer's early morning skies ;-) I think of you and the furballs often and always love your visits and revisits, as I am unable to whip out the volume of poetry and incredible writing as the master Epigramman!

Thanks to my original HP Pal!

epigramman on July 19, 2011:

.....back to revisit a classic (hub subject) and it says as much about the author of this hub as it does the lady whom you are paying tribute to ...... both incredible women in my book.

lake erie time 2:51am .... still a full moon and with Pink Floyd yet and yes Mister Gabriel sits outside on this warm summmer's night with his brand new expanded leash of about 3 feet.

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Kathy (author) from California on May 29, 2011:

Greetings Sunnie Day, thank you so much for the visit. I am glad that you feel the same way that I do about Maya Angelou, she is incredible and such an inspiration to all women! Talk to you soon!

Sunnie Day on May 28, 2011:

Awesome hub! I love this woman..her poetry goes straight to the heart. "Still I rise" is one of my favorites..Thank you for writing a great hub.


Kathy (author) from California on May 05, 2011:

Thank you Janell-I am glad you like Maya too, her strength has always been an inspiration to me.

Likewise, Rumi is amazing-it's been awhile since I have read, ;-)

~Love rests on no foundation.

It is an endless ocean,

with no beginning or end.


a suspended ocean,

riding on a cushion of ancient secrets.

All souls have drowned in it,

and now dwell there.

One drop of that ocean is hope,

and the rest is fear.

~ Rumi

Janell Rhiannon from CA, USA on May 05, 2011:

Maya is my favorite poet next to Rumi. She is an inspiration to all women...and all people...I ind she speaks to the female soul most profoundly. Thank you for writing about her and getting a smile on my face!

Kathy (author) from California on April 16, 2011:

Thank you vocalcoach, not at all a surprise to me that you also find her inspirational! I am glad that you enjoy her work as much as I do!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on April 16, 2011:

Kathi - An outstanding biography and tribute to one of my favorite women. Her courage and example is both inspiring and motivating. I will be ordering one of the above books and thank you. You are a light in the storm of life ~ vocalcoach

Kathy (author) from California on March 08, 2011:

Thank you so much for stopping by fossillady, yes I guess she is really an amazing woman! She has inspired me so much throughout life. Many hubbers have had the same affect though, but it is difficult to find the time to read them all - so far, I have not been disappointed though, yours included-I can't wait to get back to my reading :)

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on March 08, 2011:

Thank you for sharing this tribute of Maya Angelou! Obviously she has touched your life very deeply and when more people read your tribute, they can be touched by her awesomeness too! Bookmarking this one! Smiles

Kathy (author) from California on February 28, 2011:

Thank you Sage, I couldn't agree more. I am so glad that you visited and love Maya Angelou as much as I do! I appreciate your comments!

Sage Williams on February 28, 2011:

Chatkath - Maya Angelou is one of my all time favorite people. Her voice echoes deep within the chambers of my heart. She is by far not only a phenomenal woman. She is an inspiration to the world. Thanks so much for this very enjoyable hub.


Kathy (author) from California on February 28, 2011:

Thank you Fast Freda! I am in awe of her work and I agree, this version of "And Still I Rise" is especially good, I love the depth and emotion in her voice. Amazing woman, no doubt! So glad you liked!

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on February 27, 2011:

What an informative hub. I'm ashamed to say I've never really known as much about Maya Angelou, other than her TV appearances and a few speeches here and there. Also the videos were very encouraging. I really like her informal rendition of "And Still I Rise." I've heard the speech many times but never like that, with her actually acting it out. I'm going to share it with my followers, Digg it etc. Of course I've voted it up.

Kathy (author) from California on February 13, 2011:

My Mother gave me a book of her poems once and since then I was hooked; but you are right, so many people are not aware of who she even is. Her poetry is amazing. I can read the same poem and pick up something new each time I interpret her words.

And bravo to you!

epigramman on February 12, 2011:

...quite an amazing woman is she! I wish more people could see this amazing tribute to this lady - and it also speaks volumes about the person you are too - so bravo to both of you!!!!!

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