Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Dr Maya Angelou was never designated the officially recognized United States Poet Laureate. However, few have been able to reach the level of significance that she has for culture. Her poetry is fundamental to American life.
But she didn’t begin her career as a poet. She began her career as a dancer performing in San Francisco and training in New York City. This was only the beginning of the story of a lady who led an amazing, thrilling life that defied the expectations of a modest childhood.
These are the 10 most important facts you need to know about Maya Angelou, who would have been 90 today.
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10 Amazing facts about Maya Angelou
She was the first black woman to drive a cable vehicle in SAN FRANCISCO.
When she was a teenager, Maya Angelou earned a scholarship to take classes in drama and dance in the California Labor School. Still, she dropped out of the program at 16 to become a cable-car conductor in San Francisco. “I noticed women in streets with their tiny belts for changing,” she told Oprah Winfrey, explaining why she chose to work.
“They were wearing caps with bibs as well as form-fitting jackets. I was awed by their uniforms. I told myself that’s the job I’d like to have.” She was able to get it and became the first woman of colour to be a part of the job.
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PORGY and BESS MADE HER GO TO EUROPE.
When actors saw her singing in the nightclub and asked her if she wanted to dance, Angelou could get her feet into the door to be a part of the touring company of Porgy and Bess. She declined a lead role in the Broadway show House of Flowers to join the company since it offered her the chance to travel across Europe.
“The House of Flowers’s producers House of Flowers said to me: ‘Are you crazy? You’ll be taking only a small part in a show that’s currently on tour, and we’re giving you an important role in a Broadway production. ?'” the actress has been recalled in NPR. “I declared that”I’m headed to Europe. I’ll have the chance to visit places that I would normally never have imagined in the tiny village in Arkansas where I was raised. No, I’m taking Porgy as well as Bess.” She claimed it was the most important decision she’s ever made.
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SHE spoke six LANGUAGES.
Angelou’s travels in Europe also allowed her to learn about different dialects, so she listened to extremely close attention. In the end, she was able to communicate in French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, and Fante (a dialect of Akan indigenous in Ghana).
She was unable to speak for five years in her youth.
When she was an infant, Angelou was sexually assaulted by her boyfriend’s mother. Angelou reported the incident to her brother. the incident was later summoned to be a witness before a judge, which led to the conviction. In the end, he was sentenced to just one day in prison. After his release, four days later, the man was shot dead, probably by someone from Angelou’s family. Angelou claimed she was responsible for his death.
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“I thought that my voice was killing the man,” she later wrote about her attacker. “I killed him because I said his name. Then I thought that I’d never talk again, as my voice could cause death to anyone.” In the following five years, Angelou was unable to talk. Literature helped her to find her voice.
She edited the Arabic OBSERVER.
The Arab Observer was one of the few news outlets that spoke English that covered the Middle East from 1960 until 1966. While on a trip to Egypt, Angelou met and married an activist for civil rights Vusumzi Make. Then when she moved to Cairo in the year 1960, she got a job as editor of The Observer following the incident in which W.E.B. Du Bois’s step-son David did not recognize her credentials. She’d never been an editor before, but her position in The Observer was a plunge into the midst of reporting while she was working in a room full of men who’d never had the privilege of working with women before.
“Du Bois told me that I was a seasoned journalist and mother of one of the freedom fighters and a skilled manager,” Angelou said. “Would you be interested in a position as an associate editor? If so, I must consider that as I am not Egyptian, Arabic, or Moslem, and since I’d be the sole woman working at the office, things could not be as simple. He was talking about pay that sounded like pots full of gold to me.”
5 Interesting Facts About Maya Angelou
She wrote and directed several MOVIES.
At the conclusion of her professional career, there were many art types Angelou didn’t take part in (which is how she ended end up winning three Grammys, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize nomination and three Grammy awards). It’s nevertheless a pleasant surprise to discover it was Angelou is also an accomplished filmmaker.
She began acting and singing in the film Calypso Heat Wave and then moved towards screenwriting in the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia(a love story set amid the story of an African American singer who falls in love during a performance in Stockholm). Then, she moved on to direct with her 1998 film “Down In the Delta, which starred the likes of Alfre Woodard as well as Wesley Snipes.
MARTIN LUTTER KING JR. was a slaying victim on THE DAY OF HER BIRTHDAY.
Angelou was close to James Baldwin and had planned to assist Malcolm X to build the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which was a new civil rights organization just before the assassination of Malcolm X. She also served as a director at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and coordinated together with the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
At the beginning of 1968 King asked Dr King asked Angelou to go on a tour of the nation to promote the SCLC. However, she delayed the tour to organize her birthday celebration. It was her 40th birthday on April 4, 1968, when Dr King was assassinated in Memphis. The death of Dr King triggered depression. Depression.
SHE WAS ONLY THE SECOND POET IN HISTORY TO RECITE WORK AT A PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION.
The day President John F. Kennedy took the oath in 1961, the famous Robert Frost became the first poet to take part in the inauguration ceremony. In a speech at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, Angelou became the first only poet ever since Frost to have the privilege of the grand platform, reading the epic of the past century ”
On the Pulse of Morning,” that she composed for the ceremony. Her performance earned her the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
She was an excellent cook and wrote two cookbooks.
Does there exist something Angelou could not do? She utilized Hallelujah! “The Welcome Table to discover recipes that had a personal significance for her. And with Great Food, All Day Long, she shared her deep love for cooking meals for others and choosing healthy dishes.
“If this book makes its path into the hands of brave and adventurous people who are brave enough to get in the kitchen and shake pans and pots, then I’ll be very pleased,” Angelou wrote in the introduction of the last title.
She HAD HER collection of HALLMARK GIFTING CARDS.
2000 in 2000, aged 70, Angelou penned a series of two-sentence messages for the renowned greeting card company, which adorned dishes and cards. Conscient that she would be subject to criticism for her tinkering with her image by launching a commercial enterprise, she replied with the words, “If I’m America’s greatest poet or any of them, then I’d like to be in the hands of people. Everyone’s hands. People who wouldn’t ever buy books.”