Happy Birthday, Maya Angelou: Here Are 7 Stories You Should Read
If you ever needed an example as to why being black is beautiful, exhilarating and free then look no further than the life + legacy of Maya Angelou.
Born today (Apr. 4) in 1928 as Marguerite Annie Johnson, she was a jill-of-all-trades, a poet, writer, fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer, actress and so much more. She helped the Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinate marches and drives. She was friends with Malcolm X and served the black community as a journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She directed her own movies, produced controversial plays and taught thousands of young minds as a professor at Wake Forest University.
Sure, she might’ve been best known for her autobiographies, most notably, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but she was so much more. A close friend to James Baldwin, a bridge between the older generation of black celebrity to the younger (see: Oprah Winfrey) and a devout lover of good food, good drink and memorable moments. She was the first poet since Robert Frost to make an inaugural recitation when she performed “On the Pulse of Morning” during President Bill Clinton‘s inauguration in 1993.
And we could go on and on and on and on until the break of dawn.
Celebrate this respected spokesperson for black humanity and culture by checking out seven prime cuts that we have featured on Okayplayer throughout the years. From seeing her discuss the merits of the N-word with her BFF Common to listening to tributes from DJ Spinna and MK Asante — this is just a brief synopsis of items you should read to get to know this legend. Dig into her celebrated works as she is one of the most dynamic creatives to ever grace this green earth.