Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou

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Paige James
April 19, 2013
Professor Burgess

Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou
Phenomenal Woman is one of the most quoted poems in literary history. This poem was written in 1978 by Maya Angelou to tell a story of how as woman, through our many obstacles, we still were phenomenal. Angelou is a poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She was born Marguerite Johnson, April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. Maya Angelou’s life wasn’t always silver and gold. Maya Angelou’s parents divorced when she was a young child and her and her older brother were sent to live in Arkansas with their grandmother. At the age of seven, during a visit to her mother’s, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She only told her brother that this accord and days later, her mother’s boyfriend was killed by her uncles for his act on her. She thought that her words had killed him and she stopped speaking. She went on not speaking for five years and when she finally spoke, her and her brother moved back with their mom now in San Francisco. Maya earned a scholarship to the Labor School to dance and act. At the age of 16, she became pregnant and dropped out of school to work and raise her son. Angelou begin her career in a different way than most poets. She began as a dancer, then a Calypso singer and later moved to Harlem to join the Harlem Freedom Writers. In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian leadership Conference. From 1961 to 962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt; and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was appointed by Gerald Ford to Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. At...
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