Maya Angelou is a writer, poet and civil rights activist. Maya was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Maya’s father was abandoned by his parents as a child and he attempted to find family members to stay with but they were no longer alive. Maya’s mother was a very strong woman who worked as a nurse from home to support Maya and Maya’s brother, Bailey. Maya and her brother grew up with their mother and grandmother until Maya was 5 years old when she went to Stamps, Arkansas where she lived with her father for a brief time.
Maya’s dad taught Maya many valuable lessons which helped Maya later on in life. Maya was happy there but at the age of 8, Maya moved back to St Louis. Being African American during this time period impacted Maya negatively because white children were allowed to treat black children poorly without any consequences or concern from other people who merely turned their heads or ignored it completely. This ignorance encouraged more racism between races.
Mayas’ first grade teacher told Maya that being intelligent would not help her because she was black so why should Maya work for her education. Maya was tragically raped when she was about 8 years old and this led Maya to fall in love with poetry because it helped Maya express what she couldn’t say to anyone else. Maya later went to an African-American high school where Maya faced racism frequently. Maya’s grandmother died before Maya graduated from high school so Maya had no one there for her during the graduation ceremony.
After graduating, Maya moved to California but Maya still experienced racism when applying for jobs. She could only find work as a cook or a waitress until she received encouragement from singer Billie Holiday that lead Maya into becoming a Harlem’s Renaissance writer in New York where Maya became popular very quickly. One of Angelous’ biggest accomplishments is in 1969 when Martin Luther King Jr. asked Maya to arrange his birthday party and Maya honored the request.
Maya also helped Malcolm X’s family find their way into African-American culture which Maya was very grateful for because Maya grew up knowing nothing about it until she went to Stamps, Arkansas where she learned that many other African Americans came from strong roots like Maya’s grandmother who taught Maya everything she knew. Maya has made quite a few accomplishments but her biggest accomplishment is becoming well known around the world for being famous not only as a writer but as a civil rights activist, poet and singer…
Maya has written many books including I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Maya has written over 30 books including the book I know why the caged bird sings. Maya Angelous’ most famous poem would be Phenomenal Woman because Maya’s poems were usually about Female empowerment. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou came out in 1969 Maya made connections with Malcolm X Maya has written over 30 books Maya is well known around the world for being famous not only as a writer but also as civil rights activist, poet and singer.
Maya goes through this all when she is young and it still affects her in her older age. Maya Angelou’s novel I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, takes the reader on a journey of Maya’s struggles with being black in America, the differences between Maya and everyone else Maya knew, Maya finding who she was, Maya dealing with love at a young age for someone special to her, Maya losing that person to death or fate, Maya then realizing how much that meant to have that person in her life again only then to lose them again because of betrayal. Ever since Maya could remember she wanted nothing but to be white.
Her mother Vivian tells Maya about the story of “The Ugly Duckling” which made Maya feel better about not being white. Maya’s grandmother told Maya the story of “The Tar Baby” in which Maya took the personification that all blacks were tar babies, further Maya believed that she should look like a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white girl. Maya also thought that her nose was too big to be beautiful and would dream about getting plastic surgery done on it when she grew up. Maya however did not know how wrong it was for her to want to be white or think badly about her black self.
When Maya was eight years old something very sad happened to Maya which changed Maya forever. Maya’s favorite brother who is ten years older than Maya goes off to war leaving Maya behind without him. He tells Maya he loves her before he leaves but Maya never hears from him again. Maya is thrown into a deep depression and Maya does not know how to cope with it. Maya’s mother tells Maya that she is strong and Maya will be fine and Maya gets better, but Maya never forgot what her brother said to her before he left; “never forget me” .
On the first day of school at the age of eight Maya meets a new friend who would change Maya’s life forever. Her name was Mrs. Bertha Flowers. She was an older black woman Maya met on the bus ride to school on that fateful first day of school for Maya as a second-grader. Mrs. Flowers offered some advice to Maya telling Maya that she knew what it was like for Maya because before she moved next door Maya was the only black family in an all-white neighborhood. Maya’s new friend Mrs. Flowers told Maya that Maya is special and Maya does not have to be afraid of anything.
Maya forgot about her brother for a moment, but she never forgot what her mother had told her about being strong. Maya became friends with Mrs. Bertha Flowers who also helped Maya with many things Maya did not understand precisely because Maya would ask too many questions which made most women feel uncomfortable. Maya felt very comfortable around Mrs. Flowers because she knew that it was ok to be curious especially when it came to life. One example of this is when Maya asks why they can’t drink from the same water fountain as everyone else, Mrs. Bertha’s response Maya, don’t you know being black is hard? Maya was not sure how to respond because Maya could not understand why Maya was different because Maya was always curious about life.
Maya could not grasp the concept of prejudice because Maya felt that everyone should be equal and this confused Maya very much. When Mrs. Flowers got sick Maya’s parents asked Maya what she thought they should do for Mrs. Flowers. Maya told them that all she wanted to do was take care of her friend but her parents wanted Maya to go over there with food and flowers.
When Maya arrived at the house where Mrs. Flowers was staying in the hospital, one flower fell out of Maya’s hand onto the bed covering Mrs. Flowers, but when Maya tried to fix it back up Maya’s hand became paralyzed Maya could not move at all. Maya immediately started bawling her eyes out. Maya was so confused about why Maya couldn’t move when Maya tried to fix up the flower for Mrs. Flowers, but Maya knew that it must have been something very special if Maya was doing it because Maya loved Mrs. Bertha Flowers.