Author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist
When contemplating Maya’s great legacy, Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, shared the following about her background and cultural contributions:
Without deep formal education, she found her voice and wrote some of the most seminal works of poetry and fiction, giving voice to so many without words.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Her words cried for personal courage, self-expression and working for what is right. She lent her voice to many causes, working with global freedom fighters such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela and was an organizer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Before her death she received many awards, including numerous doctorates, culminating with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Angelou’s mortal voice may have been stilled, but her words are immortal. They will continue to inspire generations of freedom fighters with tales of courage, personal persistence and an ongoing battle for self-expression.