Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou60 posts
Feb 2015

Postage stamp


The U.S. Postal Service recognizes Angelou with her own Forever Stamp. A first-day-of-issuance ceremony is announced for a later date. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan:

Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word. Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.

7 Jun, 2014

Funeral in Winston Salem, North Carolina


Family and friends attend a private funeral service at Wake Forest University. Former president Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, and longtime friend Oprah Winfrey are among those who eulogize Angelou. Michelle Obama says:

She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.

Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance [Maya Angelou's Memorial Service][2014]

2 Jun, 2014

North Carolina funeral planned

Angelou’s family plans a private memorial service on the Wake Forest University campus. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 7 at 10:00 AM, and will be live-streamed to the public by the university.

28 May, 2014

Dies in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Award winning author Maya Angelou dies in her home at age 86.  Angelou is survived by her son Guy. Wake Forest University issues a statement upon her death:

Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest, where she served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies since 1982.

6 Dec, 2013

His Day is Done

Anglou writes a poem in tribute to Nelson Mandela, commissioned by the U.S. State Department, on behalf of the American People. A video of Angelou reciting the poem is released by the United States State Department. Additional videos of the recitation are produced by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information with subtitles in seventeen different languages.

His Day is Done - A Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela by Dr. Maya Angelou

2 Apr, 2013

Mom & Me & Mom


momandmePublished by Random House, this book is the seventh and final of her autobiographical works. In this work, Angelou talks about her mother, Vivian Baxter, and the turbulent but eventually loving relationship the two enjoyed. On writing about her mother:

I wanted to write about her about 20 years ago, but the book wasn’t ready. And I suppose I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t learned enough. I didn’t know that love was healing. I didn’t understand that and I think I was still wrapped in an erroneous belief that love had something to do with sentimentality and mush and romance. And after years I found…as strange as it may seem…it was love which allowed her to send her children away because she wasn’t ready for children.

16 Jan, 2011



Angelou sits down and teaches about love, life and how to be great on Oprah Winfrey’s Masterclass series.

If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you.

Dr. Maya Angelou: "Be a Rainbow in Someone Else's Cloud" - Oprah's Master Class - OWN

1 Jan, 2010

Great Food, All Day Long


great foodRandom House publishes a second cook book by Angelou, who at 81 years old adds some of her philosophies on food and eating to the book.

Without going out of my way to cut down on fats and sugar, I discovered that by making my food more savoury, I automatically found I was eating less: a smaller portion of something tasty left me feeling fuller for longer. So I decided, for my second cookbook, to put together a collection of savoury meals that were as good to eat at 8.30am as they were at 8.30pm. And yes, you can have fried rice for breakfast.

23 Sep, 2008

Letter to My Daughter


letter to my daughterIn this work published by Random House, Angelou offers a collection of essays and stories full of advice and memories to women of all ages and nationalities. She explains what prompted her to write this book:

I had no daughters. I had a son who was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. But in reality I have lots of daughters. Black ones, white ones, Asian ones and Jewish ones and the Spanish-speaking ones… Sometimes I’ll get a thousand pieces of mail a week from young women who think I’m wise. So they use me as a mother and I think of them as my daughters. So I thought it was time to say, ‘Listen, kids, I have been here and done this. I got into this scrape and got out of it. I paid for it. I want you to know that if you take this road in the dark, to the left there’s a big hole and if you’re not careful you’ll step in it and break your foot.’

1 Aug, 2007

Poetry for Young People

poems for young peoplePublished by Sterling, this book contains twenty-five poems for children, written by Angelou and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue. Angelou reveals what inspired her to write “Harlem Hopscotch”, one of the poems in the book:

Years ago I saw some children jumping hopscotch in Harlem. And then later, I was in Stockholm taking a course in cinematography, and I saw some Swedish children skipping hopscotch—I think it’s called “hoppa hage” there. And I thought, “Hmmm, those kids at home, they have a little more rhythm and they think different thoughts.” So I went back to watch the children in Harlem to get their rhythm, and then I began to write this poem.

11 Apr, 2006

Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me

mother a cradlePublished by Random House in a 32 page, hard cover volume, this poem is written not only to Angelou’s mother, but to all mothers and fathers everywhere.

I think of myself as mother. I think of men as mother — some men. My son has mothered his son, fathered his son. I don’t think you have to be a woman to mother.

Dec 2005

Amazing Peace

amazing peaceInitially written for – and read by Angelou at –  the lighting of the National Christmas Tree ceremony at the White House, the poem is subsequently published by Random House.

Maya Angelou - White House Christmas 2005 - Music by Charlie Barnett

21 Sep, 2004

Hallelujah! The Welcome Table


hallelujah the welcome tableRandom House publishes Angelou’s first cook book, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes,  in which she adds significance to each recipe by relating  stories about her life experiences.

…people all over the world use food as a device. I mean, of course, we use it because our bodies need it as fuel. But we also use it to flirt, to seek a job, to seek not just employment, but raises. We use it to prepare a climate for reconciliation. We can use food to tell a person you’re not very important to me.

14 Sep, 2004

Renée Marie of France


reneePublished by Random House, this is one in the Maya’s World series of four books for preschool children, written by Angelou and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Main character Renee visits the Eiffel Tower.

Mikale of Hawaii


mikalePublished by Random House, this is one in the Maya’s World series of four books for preschool children, written by Angelou and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Main character Mikale’s uncle and pet fish teach him about responsibility.

Itak of Lapland


itakPublished by Random House, this is one in the Maya’s World series of four books called for preschool children, written by Angelou and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Main character Itak cares for reindeer, as well as his younger brother.

Angelina of Italy


angelinaPublished by Random House, this is one in the Maya’s World series of four books for preschool children, written by Angelou and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Main character Anglina thinks the Tower of Pisa is made of pizzas.

1 Jan, 2002

A Song Flung Up to Heaven


song flung upPublished by Random House, this book is the sixth in a series of autobiographical works. In this work, Angelou begins by describing her involvement in the American Civil Rights movement after returning from Ghana, and ends with her withdrawal public activity and a decision to begin writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She explains:

It was a very difficult book to write. In all my work, I try to say – you may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies? But I didn’t see how I could do that with this book, dealing with Malcolm’s murder, Martin’s murder, the uprising in Watts, the end of a love affair- marriage-cum-something. It took me six years to write this book, and it’s the slimmest of all the volumes.

1 Dec, 2000

O Magazine interview


Angelou talks about the impact of her book, Caged Bird:

Because of the rape. And yet I just read someplace that after a woman had read Caged Bird, she realized she wasn’t alone. I think in some cases Caged Bird has saved some lives—not just the quality of life, which is very important, but life itself. I get letters from young women and men, and I am able to say to them, “You can survive rape. You never forget it—don’t even think that. But you can survive it and go on.

5 Nov, 1996

Kofi and His Magic


kofiIn this children’s book published by Clarkson Potter, written by Angelou and including photographs by Margeret Courtney-Clark, young children read about a young boy in Ghana who uses special mental powers to move his family’s home.

28 Feb, 1996

Wins Grammy


imagesAngelou wins the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Album for Phenomenal Woman.

17 Jan, 1995

Phenomenal Woman


phenomenal womanFour of Angelou’s most famous poems are published as Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women by Random House together in one volume. She says about the title poem:

I wrote it for black women, and white women, and Chinese women, and Japanese women, and Jewish women. I wrote it for Native American women, Aleut, Eskimo ladies. I wrote it for all women. Very fat women, very thin, pretty, plain. Now, I know men are phenomenal, but they have to write their own poem.

Listen: Dr. Maya Angelou Recites Her Poem "Phenomenal Woman" | Super Soul Sunday | OWN

3 Oct, 1994

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me


my painted houseIn this children’s book published by Crown, written by Angelou and including photographs by Margeret Courtney-Clark, young children learn about the life and culture of an eight-year-old Ndebele girl from a South African village.

1 Mar, 1994

Wins Grammy


Angelou wins the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Album for On The Pulse Of Morning. 

6 Feb, 1993

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me


life doesn't frighten meWritten by Angelou and illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat, this poem for young children is published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

…for all children who whistle in the dark and who refuse to admit that they’re frightened out of their wits

20 Jan, 1993

Clinton inauguration

Book Reading

Angelou recites her poem On the Pulse of Morning  at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration ceremony, becoming the second poet ever and the first woman and black person to read a poem at any presidential inauguration in American history.

Maya Angelou's Inaugural Poem (1993)

1 Jan, 1990

I Shall Not Be Moved


I_Shall_Not_Be_Moved_(Angelou_collection)Random House publishes Angelou’s fifth collection of poetry, with 32 new poems about hard work and the struggles of African Americans, among other topics. On the meaning behind the title of the work:

I believe that every human being has within herself, within himself, a moral standard, a private place that should be invited, the place you go when you reach for that last breath and can’t get it, and you meet your maker, that place from which you should never be swayed or persuaded. It is a moral standard. And everybody should say, `I shall not be moved from this place.’ That is to say, `I will not even live at any cost.

1 Jan, 1987

Now Sheba Sings the Song


now sheba singsPlume Books publishes a work containing 84 sepia and black and white sketches of women of color, created by artist Tom Feelings, and an accompanying poem by Angelou commissioned especially for the book. Feelings says:

I tried to capture a sense of the primal importance of black women, fueled by my growing awareness of their strength and beauty, so undervalued in the world.

1 Jan, 1986

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes


Published by Random House, this book is the fifth in a series of autobiographical works. Angelou relates her experiences living in Ghana. Angelou explains the source of the book’s title:

I never agreed, even as a young person, with the Thomas Wolfe title You Can’t Go Home Again. Instinctively I didn’t. But the truth is, you can never leave home. You take it with you; it’s under your fingernails; it’s in the hair follicles; it’s in the way you smile; it’s in the ride of your hips, in the passage of your breasts; it’s all there, no matter where you go. You can take on the affectations and the postures of other places and even learn to speak their ways. But the truth is, home is between your teeth.

Maya Angelou - All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes - Part 1



poemsRandom House publishes an anthology of Angelou’s  poetry. The volume contains poems from all of her first four books of poetry.

1 Jan, 1983

Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?


Shaker,_Why_Don't_You_SingRandom House publishes Angelou’s fourth collection of poetry. The volume contains 28 poems dealing with partying and singing as celebration of life, among other topics.

1 Jan, 1981

The Heart of a Woman


Maya Angelou Heart of A WomanAngelou’s fourth autobiographical work, published by Random house, describes her interactions with Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Billie Holiday. She also writes about her marriage to an African activist, and raising her teenage son. The title of the book is inspired by a poem with the same name, written by Georgia Douglas Johnson.

Angelou, De Feu divorce


Angelou and De Feu part amicably, after failing to find a home in California that suited them both and their marriage. Angelou writes about their marriage and divorce in a published essay, A House Can Hurt, a Home Can Heal:

I gave my ex-husband the Bay Area–I gave him San Francisco and Oakland and the hills and the bays and the bridges, and all that beauty. And I moved to North Carolina. I thought I’d find a small, neat little bungalow and I’d step into it and pull its beautiful walls around my shoulders. I thought that was very poetic, and that way I would just sort of muddle through the rest of my life.

12 Aug, 1976

Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas


singin and swinginAngelou’s third autobiographical work, published by Random House, covers the events in her life from 1949 to 1955. Angelou becomes a mother, enters the world of singing and acting, and goes on a world tour with the Broadway show Porgy and Bess. In a 1983 interview, Angelou explains the source of the book’s title:

…from a time in the twenties and thirties when black people used to have rent parties.
On Saturday night from around nine when they’d give these parties, through the next morning when they would go to church and have the Sunday meal, until early Sunday evening was the time when everyone was encouraged to sing and swing and get merry like Christmas so one would have some fuel with which to live the rest of the week.

12 Apr, 1974

Gather Together in My Name


Gather Together In my NameAngelou’s second autobiographical work continues where I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings left off. The narrative, published by Random House, describes Angelou’s life between the ages of 16 and 19.

I wrote about my experiences because I thought too many people tell young folks, “I never did anything wrong. Who, Moi? – never I. I have no skeletons in my closet. In fact, I have no closet.” They lie like that and then young people find themselves in situations and they think, “Damn I must be a pretty bad guy. My mom or dad never did anything wrong.” They can’t forgive themselves and go on with their lives. So I wrote the book…. Meaning that all those grown people, all those adults, all those parents and grandparents and teachers and preachers and rabbis and priests who lie to the children can gather together in my name and I will tell them the truth. Wherever you are, you have got to admit it and set about to make a change….It’s the most painful book I’ve ever written.

1 Jan, 1973

De Feu, Angelou marry


Angelou marries former Welsh carpenter Paul De Feu, seven years her junior. She and Guy move to California with De Feu. Regarding the decision to wed, Maya says it was her husband’s idea:

He said that if I were British or he black he’d be agreeable to merely live together. But with the difference in cultures, he wanted to make a public statement. So we married.


Do you love news? Help us add and summarize the world's news. Find out more