This Byte has been authored by

Mary Ellen D'Intino

An animated image of Maya Angelou holding a book in a field of flowers

Maya Angelou is one of the world's most beloved writers and poets!

Her lifetime achievements include:

  • Pulitzer Prize nominee

  • Civil rights activist

  • Actress and producer

  • Recipient of the National Medal of Freedom

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Her writings inspire us to be stronger, better human beings!

We Can Survive And Thrive

In her poem Still I Rise, Maya refers to her personal trauma and the collective trauma of Black people throughout history.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Maya Angelou poem reciting

Yet in spite of the painful references, the poem's message is one of:

  • dignity in the face of oppression

  • the resiliency of the human spirit

  • hope and strength

  • Black power

Listen to Maya Angelou recite Still I Rise:

We Are One

In her poem Human Family, Maya Angelou begins by speaking of ways that we're all different from one another.

I note the obvious differences

In the human family.

Some of us are serious,

Some thrive on comedy.

Flaticon Icon The variety of our skin tones

Can confuse, bemuse, delight

Brown and pink and beige and purple,

Tan and blue and white.

She concludes that although we have many differences, we are alike. We are one human family.

I note the obvious differences

Between each sort and type,

But we are more alike, my friends,

Than we are unalike.

Listen to Maya Angelou recite Human Family:

Love Yourself

The poem Phenomenal Woman celebrates women of all races, ages, shapes, sizes, and generations.

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Through her poem, Maya invites us to:

  • Be confident and proud

  • Appreciate our specialness

  • Love the women in our lives, past and present

Listen to Maya Angelou recite Phenomenal Woman:

Quiz

Lakeesha looks at herself in the mirror and notices her hair is extra curly and her body is very curvy. She isn't sure what others think when they see her because she looks quite different from the women on her favorite TV show.

Quiz

What do you think Maya would tell her?

Take Action

Maya Angelou's words speak to people of all races, genders, and nationalities.

Her bold words, unapologetic spirit, and positive mental attitude inspire each of us to be our best selves.

Maya Angelou saying,

Learn more about Black history and Maya Angelou:

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