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RIP Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86. She is a renowned poet, actress, singer, and dancer. In 2011 she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. Though Angelou never went to college she’s referred to as Dr. Maya Angelou. She was awarded over 30 honorary doctorate degrees and taught American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. states:

Angelou spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco but dropped out at age 14, instead becoming the city’s first African-American female cable car conductor.

Angelou later returned to high school to finish her diploma and gave birth a few weeks after graduation. While the 17-year-old single mother waited tables to support her son, she acquired a passion for music and dance, and toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.” In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Calypso Lady.”

Angelou was born April 4, 1928 in St. Louis. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was 7 years old and he was eventually beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him. Angelou stated, “My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years.”

Ironically, she is most notorious for her voice today. She spoke over six languages and was a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. She was also one of the first black women film directors. She will forever be remembered for her powerful words. I will leave you with her poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” to honor her memory:

A free bird leaps on the back

Of the wind and floats downstream

Till the current ends and dips his wing

In the orange suns rays

And dares to claim the sky.


But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage

Can seldom see through his bars of rage

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.


The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

Of things unknown but longed for still

And his tune is heard on the distant hill for

The caged bird sings of freedom.


The free bird thinks of another breeze

And the trade winds soft through

The sighing trees

And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright

Lawn and he names the sky his own.


But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams

His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.


The caged bird sings with

A fearful trill of things unknown

But longed for still and his

Tune is heard on the distant hill

For the caged bird sings of freedom.

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