Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist who published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.
Maya Angelou became a poet and writer after a string of odd jobs during her young adulthood which included; sex worker, nightclub performer, Porgy and Bess cast member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinator, and correspondent in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa.
Maya Angelou was also an actress, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs.
In 1982, Maya Angelou was named the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Maya Angelou was also was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Maya Angelou received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.
What is Maya Angelou most famous for?
Maya Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
Why was Maya Angelou mute?
As a child, Maya Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. While the boyfriend was found guilty, he was jailed for just one day. Four days later, her mother’s boyfriend was murdered, with the theory that Angelou’s uncles did so. As a result, Maya Angelou became mute for almost five years.
Maya Angelou had selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that causes a child to not speak due to physical and psychological trauma they endured.
Commenting later on the incident, Maya Angelou said;
“I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone.”