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The Revolutionary:

Name: Maya Angelou
Born: 4 April, 1928
Place of Birth: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: 28 May, 2014

Best Known For:Her autobiographical novel, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which explores themes of identity, racism, and trauma; her poetry, which explores themes of spirituality, personal growth, and resilience; her civil rights activism, including her work with Martin Luther King Jr.

Core Beliefs:

All people are created equal and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; love, courage, and forgiveness are powerful tools for healing and personal growth; art and literature have the power to transform individuals and society.

Iconic Quotes:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible

Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.


Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928. She grew up in a segregated society and experienced racism and trauma from a young age. Despite facing significant obstacles, she went on to become a celebrated author, poet, and civil rights activist. 

Angelou’s most famous work is her autobiographical novel, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” which chronicles her childhood experiences of racism, sexual abuse, and trauma, as well as her personal growth and spiritual development. She went on to write numerous other works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and received numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

In addition to her literary work, Angelou was also a civil rights activist, working with Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the movement. She was an advocate for social justice and equality, and used her platform as an artist to raise awareness about issues of racism, sexism, and poverty. 


Angelou’s work has had a profound impact on literature, as well as on individuals and society as a whole. Her writing explores themes of identity, trauma, and personal growth, and has inspired generations of readers to overcome their own struggles and find meaning and purpose in their lives. 

In addition to her literary impact, Angelou’s activism helped to advance the cause of civil rights and social justice in the United States. She used her platform to advocate for equality and to raise awareness about issues of racism and inequality, helping to change hearts and minds and promote a more just and equitable society. 

Three Tips from a Revolutionary:

Believe in yourself and your abilities:

Angelou’s life is a testament to the power of perseverance and self-belief.

Despite facing significant obstacles and setbacks, she never gave up on her dreams or her vision for a better world.

She believed in herself and her abilities, and used her talents to create positive change in the world. 

Find meaning and purpose in your struggles:

Angelou’s work often explores themes of trauma and struggle, but she also emphasizes the importance of finding meaning and purpose in these experiences.

She believed that our struggles can help us grow and learn, and that they can ultimately lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. 

Use your platform to make a difference:

Angelou used her platform as an artist and activist to advocate for social justice and equality.

She believed that each of us has the power to make a difference in the world, and that we all have a responsibility to use our talents and resources to create positive change in our communities and beyond. 

Essential Reading:

Essential Viewing:

This article is a part of our monthly “Portrait of a Revolutionary” series, in which we look at some of the influential figures who have created real change in the world. These revolutionaries span both time and geography, but what they have in common is that they took action. They are the individuals who sent electrical currents through our societies, who created paradigm shifts, and who sparked global movements.


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