Maya Angelou made her mark in literary historical past by writing the primary nonfiction bestseller by an African American girl: her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Chicken Sings.
However that wasn’t her solely first — and even her first one.
Born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou had a traumatic childhood after her household moved to Arkansas. There, she confronted discrimination — and was raped by her mom’s boyfriend on the age of seven. As retaliation, her uncles killed her perpetrator, scarring the younger woman to the purpose that she didn’t communicate for about 5 years.
Finally, she moved out west and began carving out her personal path — changing into the primary African American cable automotive conductor in San Francisco within the 1940s. The following decade, she discovered success as a performer, starring in a touring manufacturing of Porgy and Bess, in addition to off-Broadway’s Calypso Warmth Wave in 1957 and releasing an album Miss Calypso the identical yr.
Whereas she obtained a Tony nomination for the play Look Away in 1973 and Emmy nomination for the TV miniseries Roots in 1977, it was her writing that helped her pave much more firsts.
Her bestseller about her adolescence went on set a file for being on the New York Occasions paperback nonfiction bestseller listing for 2 years, and when her screenplay for Georgia, Georgia was changed into a film in 1972, she additionally turned the primary African American girl to have her screenplay produced.
The renaissance girl continued evolving her creative skills by specializing in poetry, even reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration — the primary inaugural recitation since 1961.
All through her many careers, she was actively concerned with the civil rights motion, serving because the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Management Convention the place she met Martin Luther King Jr. and later labored with Macolm X to arrange the Group of Afro-American Unity when she lived in Africa.
Paving so many firsts is solely proof of Angelou’s capability to interrupt down boundaries in each area she pursued. By the point she died on Might 28, 2014, she had written a complete of 36 books — together with cookbooks — and her reward for crafting phrases has ceaselessly left us with a number of the most inspirational and memorable quotes of our time.
On angle: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
On womanhood: “I am a Woman/Phenomenally./Phenomenal Woman,/that’s me.”
On management: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
On braveness: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
On making an impression: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
On prospects: “Lift up your hearts Each new hour holds new chances For new beginnings.”
On potential: “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
On readiness: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
On freedom: “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 birds sings of freedom.”
On forgiveness: “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
On reciprocity: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
On caring for others: “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
On spreading positivity: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
On jealousy: “It must be remembered, however, that jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savour, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.”
On persistence: “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
On working: “I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”
On our influences: “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot — it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”
On trying inward: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
On her life mission: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
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