Google Doodle is honoring Maya Angelou on what would have been her 90th birthday. If you need a refresher on the life of the legendary poet and activist, here are 5 things to know!
Maya Angelou is one of America’s most legendary figures. Over the course of her incredible life, she was a poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Google Doodle is celebrating her life with stunning artwork on its homepage. Maya was born April 4, 1928, and died May 28, 2014. She may be gone, but her legacy will never be forgotten. Here’s what you need to know about Maya.
1. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was an autobiography that chronicled her experiences with racism and sexual assault. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, her first book, was released in 1969. Maya wrote about how her mother’s boyfriend raped her when she was just 8 years old. She testified at his trial, and he was convicted. When he was released, he was beaten to death. In the wake of experiencing such trauma, Maya was mute for 5 years.
2. Maya worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement. Maya worked for Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Northern Coordinator for Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was close friends with Malcolm X. She helped him create the Organization of Afro-American Unity before he was assassinated in 1965.
3. She read a poem at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. Maya became the second poet ever to read a piece of original work at a presidential inauguration. She read “On the Pulse of Morning.”
4. She also had a TV and film career. In the 1977 epic miniseries Roots, Maya played Kunta Kinte’s grandmother. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Her memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was adapted into a TV movie in 1979. She had a small role in the 1993 film Poetic Justice. She made her directorial debut with Down in the Delta in 1998. Her latest acting role was in the 2006 comedy, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion.
5. She was Oprah Winfrey’s mentor. “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life,” Oprah said in a statement after Maya’s death in 2014. “The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ is one of my best lessons from her.”