“She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace…” Her son, Guy B. Jonson
Her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings brought her international recognition and infused the genre with new energy. It was an indictment of the racial discrimination she experienced during her childhood and continues to have a wide appeal, particularly to younger female readers, appearing on school and university reading lists in the US and the UK.
In 1993, she read On the Pulse of the Morning at President Clinton’s first inauguration, a performance that made the poem a bestseller. The poem celebrates the diversity of ethnic groups in the US, and calls on the nation to leave behind cynicism and look forward to a new pride in itself, and a new dawn for the country.
“She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.” Her close friend, Oprah Winfrey
“All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
Read more and see Maya Angelou’s reading of her poem at President Clinton’s inauguration here.