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Snippet of Maya Angelou - Poetry as Activism

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Last Played: February 28, 2021
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While Maya Angelou is best known for her poetry and civil rights activism, she was also a historian, author, song writer, dancer, singer, television producer, and performer. Listen in to learn about her life, plus hear a recitation of her poem, "Caged Bird".
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before we get into her work, we're gonna kind of just talk about her life. And so my Angelou was best known for her poetry and civil rights activism. But besides that, she was also a historian, author, songwriters, dancer, singer, television producer and performer, like she has a lot going for her. She was born on April 4th, 1928 and died May 28th, 2014. When she was younger, she moved to San Francisco and worked as a waitress, just kind of making ends by with money and stuff. Um, she even worked as a prostitute for a little bit, just for the extra money. She did get pregnant at a early age and needed the money, so she was just kind of working for the best she could to provide for her and her son. She then did get married to the father of her child, which was the nastiest Tosh. Angelou and her son was named guy, and around five years after she got pregnant, her and Angela got married, and when she divorced, they ended up getting divorced. She kept the last name but kind of changed spelling a little bit, so she still was my Angela. She just changed the spelling a little bit. As a young adult, Angela was able to attend one of Dr Martin Luther King's speeches, and her attending that really kind of changed her focal and mind set off how African Americans have toe live in the United States. At the time, she thought that maybe that her area she was living in was kind of the problem. But she then, after the speech, was able to realize how affected all the African Americans were in the United States. I'm going to read an excerpt from I know why the Caged Bird sings, and I'm kind of kind of focus on these because there it's kind of the focal point of the poem and kind of like explains all of the meaning. So it starts with the free bird, thinks of another breeze, and the trade winds soft through the sign trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn, and he names this guy his own. But a cage bird stands on the grave of dreams. His shadow shouts a nightmare scream. His wings are clipped in, his feet are tied, so he opens his throat to sing The Caged Bird sings with a fearful trill off things unknown but longed for his still. And his tune is heard on the distant hill for the Caged Bird sings of freedom. So basically, when she's writing about that, the cage bird was kind of a big symbol for the people in the United States who are going through discrimination and just kind of like how trapped they felt even when they wanted their voice to be heard. Like in the line. His wings are clipped and his feet are tied, so he opens his throat to sing. They were, like, physically stopped from being able to do things, and they still tried to use their voice. But it just wasn't working because of how the United States was back then. And I think that's really important because, like it revealed how different groups of people are faced with different challenges. But they kind of understand that they're all going through something. But they all need to work together how to figure it out. On May 24th 2014, she was found dead by the nurse who was coming to take care of her. She was reported to be in bad health and had canceled some scheduled appearances. But she was still in the process of writing another autobiography on May 29 the same year there was a big public memorial service to honor her and her successes. And at that time they had lots of celebrities visiting like Oprah went, Bill Clinton went. They were just all they're celebrating her life and how well written everything she did waas And like how much of an influence she had and her influence on the drawing, A really inspired a lot of authors to write about how the African Americans felt during the civil rights movement. She spoke about something that people tried to avoid because it was an uncomfortable subject, and it made a large focal point in history and in literature. Her works will remain eminent throughout the years. Just because she focused on something that was such a hard thing to talk about at that time, because people felt like since their voice wasn't being heard about how they felt, they couldn't write about it because then their work would just be taken for granted. It would have just been taken as another silly book, and her work will stay throughout literature and civil rights for years and years to come.
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