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Essay: A True Inspiration To All


Posted: August 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 17, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Essay contest winner Brianna Price, 13, center, stands with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies after receiving her iPad Mini tablet. Essay contest winner Brianna Price, 13, center, stands with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies after receiving her iPad Mini tablet.
Essay contest winner Brianna Price, 13, center, stands with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies after receiving her iPad Mini tablet.

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. However, she is most remembered as a beautiful poet. Throughout this essay, I will send you back in time to see the life of the magnificent Dr. Maya Angelou. It is hard to find words that describe her, so I will leave that up to you. But, I will say her poetry will slide through the brain and straight to your heart.

Dr. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4th, 1928 in St. Louis Missouri. As a young child, in fact at the age of seven, Angelou had gone through a horrifying experience that no one should ever have to go through especially for a child. Her uncle killed her attacker and Angelou felt as if that was her fault. As a result of the terrifying incident, she stopped talking for five years. Maya’s mother had sent Maya and her brother to live with their grandmother so she could gather herself and prepare for a life full of children. In those five years of living with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, she never spoke a word. Think about it, if you try and not speak for a day, I bet you couldn’t. Now take that challenging one day of not speaking and multiply it by one-thousand-eight-hundred-five.

As a teenager, Angelou earned a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School, where she first became inspired to be an activist. Later, she dropped out of the school to become the first African-American cable car conductor. The racism, the dirty looks, and the horrible comments failed to stop her. She returned to high school in her senior year. A week after Angelou graduated high school, she gave birth to her first and only child. She had to support herself and a child alone. She had not given up her love for the arts.

Maya didn’t let anything discourage her. In 1952, Angelou married a greek sailor Anastasios Angelopulos, she became a nightclub singer. She combined her childhood first name and shortened her last name to create Maya Angelou. Her love for poems and song lyrics lived on even if her marriage did not. Gradually, Angelou became an African-American civil rights activist. When Maya returned to America she planned to help Malcolm X with his new organization for African-Americans. Sadly, in that week when she returned (1964), Malcolm X was assassinated, like many of the African-American civil rights activists (except, thankfully, for Maya Angelou). Maya continued to be Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as requested by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated on April 4, 1968 which also happened to be Angelou’s birthday.

Though going through many sad moments in this time of her life, she continued on and found an even bigger passion for writing with the help and inspiration of one of her dear friends, James Baldwin. With the help of James Baldwin and the relaxation she found in writing, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was born. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was a book explaining the life and hardships of Maya Angelou’s life. She became a positively internationally known person. As the years progressed, so did her writings, poems, and stories. Angelou was very much recognized as a global renaissance woman.

As an African-American young lady, I felt as if Maya Angelou was personally speaking to me. Encouraging me, strengthening me, helping me. She had high expectations, that we African-Americans fulfill our dreams to evolve and obtain our rights. If I could thank her for how much she has inspired and helped me, my family, my friends, and so much more I would. One of her greatest teachings to me was to forgive and forget. No matter how bad, because, honestly, what good what it do you to keep in all that hate? So personally, I want to thank you, Maya Angelou. I know I didn’t get in all of your life’s accomplishments. But that’s okay because I know them, you know them, and the world knows them. Her love, life, and teachings will forever hold a special place in our hearts.


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