There is little that Maya Angelou did not do in her life. The accomplished poet and writer lived through grinding poverty, sexual abuse, a difficult family life, prostitution, and several marriages. She was a streetcar conductor, a calypso dancer, a stage and film actress, a singer, a film director, a screenplay writer, a civil rights and anti-apartheid activist, a mother, and of course a poet.
She traveled the world over, learned several languages, was a professor, a lecturer, and a teacher of philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theater, and writing. She won numerous Grammies, was nominated for a Tony and a Pulitzer.
While she never formally earned a university degree, she was awarded many honorary degrees. Her life was so varied and full that it is no wonder she wrote seven autobiographies, the first of which catapulted her to fame, called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969.
Maya Angelou read her poetry at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993 and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2011.
On the morning of Wednesday May 28th, Maya Angelou breathed her last breath. She was 86 years old. She had still been working on her latest autobiography and was active on the lecture circuit. Pacifica Radio and Uprising pay tribute today to a great human being, whose voice, like many other history-making figures, is preserved in the Pacifica Radio Archives.
We feature an excerpt of a 1975 interview with Maya Angelou by Lin Harris from the Pacifica Radio Archives
Special thanks to Mark Torres.