Inspiring Author and Activist: Maya Angelou

Written by Jood, Teen Volunteer
Halifax Public Libraries' Teen Blog is written by and for teens. Discover more posts here., opens a new window


I couldn't be more inspired by every word that came out of Maya Angelou’s mouth. 

How do I even begin to describe what makes her so great?

Who she was

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson) was an African American poet, important civil rights activist, and novelist born on April 4, 1928.

She had a hard life when she was really young. Maya’s parents ended their disastrous marriage and sent Maya and her older brother to live with their grandmother. Maya then became mute for years because she believed her words caused the death of her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Later in her high school years, Maya was inspired by her teacher, Bertha Flowers, to dive into literature, which would changed her life.

Shortly after this, Maya became a single mother and dropped out of high school. She worked some random jobs as a young woman such as a fry cook, a nightclub performer, a cast member in an opera, a correspondent in Egypt and Ghana, an actress, and a Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinator.

And then eventually became a writer. 

Why she was incredible

Maya Angelou certainly didn't waste any of her time or talents over the years.

She published three collections of essays, seven autobiographies, various poetry books and is credited with several dozen television shows, plays and movies.

She even became the first Black female cable car conductor in San Francisco during World War II at the young age of 16!

She also received more than 50 honorary degrees and well over a handful of major awards. Despite not having any formal education beyond a high school diploma, she was known as Dr. Maya Angelou.

Unfortunately, Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86 but she never stopped working.

Well into her eighties, Maya was a professor in North Carolina. She was even planning on teaching another course in late 2014. 

I find it so amazing how she isn’t even here anymore yet her words continue to find their way to people who have probably never heard of her before, like me—and maybe you! 

Learn more

If you are inspired like me and want to find out where Maya Angelou got her name, who encouraged her to publish her autobiographies and more, I would recommend reading Maya Angelou’s infamous first autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings , opens a new windowor any of her poetry books - are all available at Halifax Public Libraries.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou is inspiring and spent her youth chasing and reaching her dreams. And wherever life led her, she made sure to make the most of it.

Check out the websites I used to source information:

Wikipedia, opens a new window

Dates & Events, opens a new window

Biography.com, opens a new window


About the writer

My name is Jood Shikara and I’m 15 years old. I'm currently in COVID-19 quarantine just like you. I have a dwarf hamster named Sesame who lives luxuriously. My life these days tend to centre around him and I am not mad about it! I’ve always thought learning was really fun but I like learning specifically about things that they don't teach you in school, like how to take care of a hamster! I love trying and learning about different styles of art because I want to channel my creativity in new and interesting ways.

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