Being part of two of the most marginalized sectors of society during her time did not stop Maya Angelou from speaking up, pushing back, and sharing her wisdom. Angelou was an active fighter for civil rights and freedom for all. She has written more than 20 books including a series of autobiographies, poetry, essays, plays and philosophy books. Maya has also been the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and honorary degrees. She shared her wisdom through her speeches, lectures, books, songs, dance, and acting.
Picking Up Lessons from Early Challenges
Angelou did not have an easy childhood. Her parents separated when she was just three years old and she was sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend when she was eight years old. Because of her ordeal, she was unable to speak until she was a teenager.
The adversities she faced early in life did not stop her from living, dreaming, and fighting. She believed that “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” She picked up lessons from all the difficulties that she encountered. During her years as a mute child, she spent time reading the works of authors who would eventually help to shape her life and her writing.
The wisdom of Angelou is a product of all that she has experienced in life. She finished college, got a job as a female cable conductor, bore a child, and had several relationships before she discovered her love for writing. She met more influential authors as she worked to improve her craft.
A Legacy of Wisdom for Generations
Angelou ‘found her voice’ and got published. She was also actively involved in organizations and activities that fought for civil rights. She became a writer, an activist, and an organizer following the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr.
Angelou’s works have found their way into reading lists in school and university courses. Her writings have been a source of inspiration for many black writers. Beyond the academe, the influence of Angelou’s words has spread even to pop culture into the music of modern hip-hop artists like Nicki Minaj and Kanye West.
Her wisdom has touched and continues to touch, millions of people all over the world. Her celebrated work “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” has been printed and reprinted as readers yearn for inspiration from her words.
While she sought to further the cause of black women, her works speak more strongly about self-revelation – of knowing who you are and being proud of who you are. She declares that being successful means “liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Angelou’s wisdom will live beyond the 86 years of her mortal life. As she so generously shared her personal life in her works, she left a legacy of wisdom that present and future generations can learn from and be inspired by.