Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Date of Birth

Date of Birth: April 04, 1928
Date of Passing: May 28, 2014
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri
Obituary: New York Times

One of the most admired and respected American cultural figures of her generation, Maya Angelou was an author, poet, journalist, activist, dancer, actress, director, producer, college professor, lecturer and more. Although she is perhaps best known for her literary works — including the 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and several other volumes of memoirs — Angelou was a true renaissance woman.

Her remarkable life journey took her from the Jim Crow-era South to international renown, when she recited her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

One of the most admired and respected American cultural figures of her generation, Maya Angelou was an author, poet, journalist, activist, dancer, actress, director, producer, college professor, lecturer and more. Although she is perhaps best known for her literary works — including the 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and several other volumes of memoirs — Angelou was a true renaissance woman.

Her remarkable life journey took her from the Jim Crow-era South to international renown, when she recited her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

Along the way she lived in Egypt and Ghana, learned several languages, befriended and collaborated with major cultural figures — including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin — fought for civil rights for African Americans, published books, recorded albums and performed on Broadway as well in films and on television. She received more than 50 honorary degrees and was Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Her life is recounted in detail at her official website

Angelou began her career in the arts as a dancer and in the 1950s toured Europe with a production of the Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess. She studied with modern dance icon Martha Graham and danced with Alvin Ailey on stage and on television variety shows. After moving to New York she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom

Angelou’s screenplay for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia — the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed — was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She also composed the film’s score.

In 1973, she received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Look Away, a two-character play about Mary Todd Lincoln (played by Geraldine Page) and her seamstress. 

In addition to her many appearances on television variety and talk shows, she played Kunta Kinte’s grandmother in the acclaimed 1977 miniseries Roots. She also appeared on Sesame Street, Touched by an Angel and the 2000 made-for-TV movie The Runaway. She received writing credit for the 1979 television adaptation of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the 1982 telefilm Sister, Sister.

Her feature film credits as an actress included Poetic Justice, How to Make an American Quilt and Madea’s Family Reunion. In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta

She served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and in 2011, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Angelou died May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86.

 
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