This Friday’s Fabulous Female is an author, civil-rights activist, a mother, an actress, an educator, a playwright and much more. Yet perhaps what makes her most famous is her poetry that she has recited in venues all over the world, including President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
I was first “introduced” to this incredible women in High School, when, for summer reading, I was assigned her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.Today’s Fabulous Female is none other than Dr. Maya Angelou.
In my own immaturity, the summer I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I couldn’t understand why our school would have us read a book in which someone experienced so much brokenness. In the book, Angelou chronicles the first seventeen years of her life in which she was a victim of racism and rape, in which she struggled to find her voice, and in which she became a single mom at the age of seventeen.
What I didn’t understand then, was that Angelou was giving us an incredible example of what it looks like to not only survive the brokenness we all face in life, but to continue singing even when we find ourselves caged in. And she has continued that example by going on to live an awe-inspiring life.
As a young woman, she toured Europe as an actress, studied modern dance, and was a part of the Harlem Writers Guild. For a year she lived in Cairo, Egypt, where she was the editor of The Arab Observer. A year later, she was in Ghana, teaching at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, writing for The Ghanian Times, and serving as feature editor for The African Review. She mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and the West African language, Fanti. During her time in Ghana, she met Malcom X. She served with both he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil-Rights movement.
Later, she wrote I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and over 30 bestselling fiction and non-fiction books. She has written screenplays and scores, and appeared in Famous Films such as Alex Haley’s Roots and Poetic Justice. She is now eight-four years old, and she is not done living.
When I read her biography, I couldn’t help but think of St. Irenaeus’s words when he said “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Maya Angelou has lived and served humanity all over the world. She has given us an example of what it means to be a strong, feminine leader who shares her gifts and talents fully. When she recites her poetry, she gives voice to the human condition, touching people where they feel their greatest pains, joys, injustices, and victories.
There is much more to her story, and I don’t feel a blog post can fully capture it. So I believe it is best to leave you with an invitation to see her interviewed, and to hear her recite her poem, “Phenomenal Woman” that celebrates what it means to be Fabulously Female.