by Cayce McCarthy. Arts and Entertainment blogger.
Hey Femm readers. This morning I shared with you guys the inspiring story of Audrey Hepburn and for tonight’s post, I decided to talk about another inspirational lady, whose birthday was just a few days ago, Maya Angelou. Angelou’s full name is Marguerite Annie Johnson Angelou. She was born April 4, 1928 and passed away May 28, 2014. This year she would have been 90 years old. Angelou was an author, poet, actress, screenwriter, dancer, and civil rights activist with her famous memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This book was the first non-fictional best seller by an African American woman.
As for her personal life, Angelou was born in Missouri but after her parents divorced she and her brother, Bailey, were sent to live with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. While there she faced the racial discrimination and views of that time. Angelou was very close with her brother and after she was molested at seven years old by her mother’s boyfriend, he was the one she confided in. Her uncle had eventually killed the man and Angelou felt her speaking out had murdered him causing her not to speak for five years. She began speaking again at age 13 when she and Bailey were reunited with their Mom in San Francisco where she attended school.
It was at school that she was exposed to civil rights ideals that sparked her later activism. She became pregnant during her senior year of high school and gave birth to her son, Guy. She then took on the life of a single mother but never gave up on her dreams. In 1952 she married the Greek sailor, Anastasios Angelopulos, whom she took her professional name from. The marriage didn’t last but her acting career flourished with her success in the opera Porgy and Bess, dancing on the Alvin Ailey tv show, and recording her first album, Calypso Lady.
For the longest time, Angelou had lived in Cairo, Egypt and then Ghana, Africa. It was in Ghana that she met Malcolm X and began to correspond with him. She returned to the states in the year 1964 wanting to help X in his movements until he was assassinated. She remained active in the movement and became close with Martin Luther King Jr. who requested that Angelou should be the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His assassination on her birthday in the year 1969 lead her to become severely distraught again until she focused on her writing which lead to, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Both Angelou and Hepburn faced some challenging times, but both were inspirational women in our history. And even though they’re no longer with us their inspiring lessons will live on. ‘til next time.