And She Still Wrote: Remembering Maya Angelou

May 9, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou’s life could not be contained by a single autobiography, even the critically acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

So the memoirist, who died on May 28 at age 86, wrote six.

Angelou’s multi-volume “song of herself”—to play off Whitman’s famous poem—made an audacious claim: that she, as a Black woman reared in the segregated South, was fully human and a worthy historical subject who needed no outside narrator to tell or validate her story.

By the time I reached high school, I was intrigued with Angelou, partly because she was a professor at Wake Forest University, a short drive from my Greensboro, North Carolina, home. After hearing about Angelou sightings around my city, my sister and I always hoped for a brief glimpse of her doing mundane things like grocery shopping or getting her car oil changed.


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