“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.”
Meet Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Angelou fought for what she believed in and fought for the hope of change. She was an author, actress, screenwriter, dancer and poet. Angelou did not have an easy childhood. When she was a very young age, her parents split up and she, as well as her brother were sent to live with their grandma. While staying in Arkansas, she experienced discrimination and prejudice, but her hardship did not end there.
At the very young age of 7, during one of the visits with her mom and her mother’s boyfriend, she was raped by the boyfriend. Upon hearing about this tragedy, her uncle’s killed the boyfriend. Traumatized from the experience, Angelou stopped talking for years, she became a virtual mute.
Despite her childhood, Angelou was still an influential woman. During the second World War, she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School. While staying in San Francisco, she became the first African American cable car conductor. Shortly after, she gave birth to a son at the age of sixteen.
By the mid 1950s her career had started to take off, she got a role in a touring production of Porgy and Bess. By 1957, she also appeared in Calypso Heat Wave, and released her first album Miss Calypso. As a civil rights activist, she organized a musical revue Cabaret for Freedom, benefitting the Southern Christina Leadership Conference. In 1961, Angelou lived in many different places working as an editor and a freelance writer, this also included in a position at the University of Ghana.
In 1969, urged by a friend, she wrote a memoir about her childhood and young adult life called, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This was the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.
This book was only the beginning, she wrote the drama, was nominated for her role in Look Away and an Emmy Award nomination for her work on the television miniseries Roots (1977), among other honours.
Maya Angelou is an excellent example of what not allowing a difficult childhood determining the rest of your life. Amongst all her trials, she overcame them to become something so much better.