This post was written by Elijah Oliver
So we’ve decided to extend Black History Month to the end of May. For this week were going to uncover important Black Authors of the 20th Century who influenced the society in America.
Maya Angelou was born in the “roaring twenties” on the day of April 4, 1928. During this period people denied prohibition and rejected moral standards. Women did more things like dressing fancy and going out to parties. Maya was born in St. Louis, Missouri. When her parents split up, her and her brother was forced to move to Arkansas where she experienced lots of racial prejudice. Maya had a rough childhood, and at the age of 7 she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and out of anger her uncle killed her rapist. So when she moved to Arkansas she was mute essentially scarred. During WWII she moved to California where she participated in plays and did many singing. Like many other peacemakers, Angelou spent time oversees in Ghana and Egypt. Here she became close with human rights activist Malcolm X. Returning to America, Martin Luther King was assassinated the same day as her birthday and she stopped celebrating her birthday.
You may know Maya Angelou from her famous poems but she also wrote many books. She was most known for her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This book talked about Maya’s troubling childhood and how racism and oppression kept her prisoner in society and didn’t allow her to experience freedom. This became the first non-fiction best seller by an African American woman. This book became known as one of the best autobiographical books also. Another book she wrote was A Song Flung Up to Heaven, which outlined the death of famous human rights activist Martin Luther King and Malcom X.
Maya was very influential in her works during the civil rights movement. Instead of using violence, she used her voice and her words to combat racism. Maya died just recently in the year of 2014. She heard tweets from Mary J. Blige and Barack Obama, who tweeted their favorite quotes from her. The legacy Maya Angelou not only was important to African Americans, but also to women. She showed that women voices are just important as any others, and became one of the most important women authors to this day.
Photo credit: Netflix “And Still I Rise”