Her life story was epic. She was a singer, a poet, an activist and a friend to many Presidents. She became a voice for black America in 1969 when she wrote her best-selling book called I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She would write things like, ”The horizon leans forward offering you space to place new steps of change.” She had a comforting voice that made you feel like we can all just get better. By 1993 President Clinton asked her to read a poem at his first Inauguration. And after that she became a household name.
At seven years old she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. When she told what had happened to her, the man was murdered. The policeman said that it appeared that he was kicked to death. Her seven year old logic thought that it was her voice that killed him. So she stopped speaking. She did not speak for five years. She would spend her time just sitting in the back of her grandmother’s general store reading the classics and memorizing Shakespeare. She lived in the middle of suffering. She realized that when she looked in the mirror that she was black at a time in America when black people were treated very differently from white people.
At 16 she had a child. At 18 she ran a brothel. By 20 she was dancing in a strip joint. Who does all that by age 20? Who is able to be a respected person for the rest of their lives? Not many. But she was able to rise from the muck that was her life. This is why I think all struggling young people who are looking for their own identity should study the life of Maya Angelou. It was her mother who gave her the inspiration to change her life. One day her Mother told her that she was the greatest person that she ever met. Maya was shocked considering all the crazy things she had already done in her life but she appreciated her Mother’s’ comment greatly. So she decided that maybe it was about time that she stop smoking, stop the prostitution stop cursing because she just might be somebody.