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  • Rhea Lulla

Honouring the Legend Maya Angelou

In life, some people leave a lasting impact on us. One such person was Maya Angelou. She was a famous American poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, and an extraordinary woman. Maya Angelou had a unique writing style and a great attitude that helped her become an inspiration to many. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than 50 years.

Her story has inspired and touched the hearts of many. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. Her original name was Marguerite Annie Johnson. She was an African-American woman growing up in the Southern United States during a time of struggle and so she suffered from harassment, abuse, racism, and gender discrimination while growing up. Even though she faced many hardships in her life she did not let that stop her from becoming a strong woman and a successful poet.

One of her most popular poems is ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ which is about her traumatic childhood. The poem is so famous and stimulating that it is now a part of many schools’ English literature books.

In her poem titled ‘Still I Rise,” she has the following stanza-

"You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise."

I believe that this stanza represents her resilience to not give up in the face of many obstacles which helped her through difficult times and also helped her become successful despite many personal struggles.

Maya Angelou received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. She has worked with many famous activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Former American President Bill Clinton even asked Angelou to write a poem for his inauguration as President in 1993. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former American President Barack Obama.

To honour her, the United States Mint announced in January 2022 that they have started minting a special new quarter featuring Maya Angelou, making her the first Black woman to appear on a US coin. The coin is part of a series of quarters honouring important women in US history. The Mint mentioned that the coin was supposed to represent how Maya Angelou "used words to inspire and uplift".

She died on 28th May 2014 at the age of 86. Maya Angelou’s legacy will forever be remembered. She was a very strong woman with an extraordinary personality who fought for human rights while creating incredible pieces of poetry. She has achieved a lot in her life and is a great inspiration to all of us.

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