Maya Angelou was a poet, memoirist, dancer and civil rights activist whose books explore themes of economic, racial and sexual oppression in a personal way.
Angelou suffered a devastating childhood trauma which left her almost completely mute for several years. That experience became the focus of her first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which gained critical acclaim and a National Book nomination.
She studied dance with Martha Graham and Pearl Primus and acted on stage, film and TV.
Among her many honors was an invitation to compose and deliver a poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton . She elegized Nelson Mandela in herpoem “The Day is Done”, commissioned by the State Department and released in the wake of the South African leader’s death (2013).
Angelou continued to write profusely till her death in 2014 . Her work as professor, writer and performer and cultural ambassador spanned over five decades.