Happy Birthday, Maya Angelou - April 4, 1928

Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 is known to us today as Maya Angelou, a great poet, autobiographer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, singer, and dancer—an American Renaissance woman who overcame a devastatingly difficult childhood to become a literary and cultural hero to so many. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Angelou’s vast and influential oeuvre began with the unflinching 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and her genre-redefining, honest prose and gripping poetry, along with her social activism and gusto for life made her a venerated figure across the globe. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Two remarkable other firsts: Angelou became the first black cable car operator in San Francisco in 1943, and in the same city, she formed a modern dance company with a fledgling dancer and choreographer by the name of Alvin Ailey. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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The aftermath of childhood sexual trauma caused Angelou to go mute for five years; how fortunate are we that she recovered, because her earthy spoken voice was a force of nature—witness her recitation at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.” This was only the second time a poet had recited verse at an inauguration, and yes, the first time by a woman. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Watch it online; it is always profoundly moving.

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