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Maya Angelou. Poet and Activist Heroine 1928-2014. Education. Maya Angelou attended California Labor School and George Washington High School Dropped out of school at the age of 14 soon after Studied dance with Martha Graham and danced with Alvin Ailey on television reality shows
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Maya Angelou Poet and Activist Heroine 1928-2014
Education • Maya Angelou attended California Labor School and George Washington High School • Dropped out of school at the age of 14 soon after • Studied dance with Martha Graham and danced with Alvin Ailey on television reality shows • Earned over fifty honorary degrees for her works at various colleges
Life • Lived in Stamps, Arkansas as a child and experienced brutal discrimination • She loved the art of dance and earned a scholarship to San Francisco Labor School, where she dropped out, and rejoined to earn a diploma, soon after she had her child • In 1954 and 1955, she traveled to Europe with her opera, Porgy and Bess • In 1957, she recorded her first album, Calypso Lady
Early Adulthood • In 1958, Maya moved to New York to join the Harlem Writer’s Guild • She later acted in the famous Off-Broadway production, The Blacks • Soon after she continued to write and perform in her own production, Cabaret for Freedom • In 1960, she moved to Cairo, Egypt, and found work on the English portion of The Arab Reporter • The next year, Maya moved to Ghana
Life in Africa • She found work at the University of Ghana, and as the editor of The African Review, and as a writer for The Ghanian Times • While living in Ghana, Maya met Malcolm X • She moved back to the U.S. in 1964, to help X found his Organization of African American Unity • Soon after she arrived in the U.S., Malcolm X had been assassinated • She then met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Inspiration • Dr. MLK had swiftly asked her to serve as Northern Coordinator for his Southern Christian Leadership Conference • On April 4, 1968, Angelou’s birthday, King was assassinated, leaving Angelou completely shocked • The assassination of King had sparked her want to write poetry about the struggles of the African American community • With the help of James Baldwin, she published her first piece of poetry, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Film Life • Maya continued her life in the arts with film making and acting • She made appearances on the trail-blazing television adaptation of Alex Haley’s Roots in 1977 • She was also in John Singleton’s Poetic Justice • In 2008, Maya Angelou starred in M.K. Asante’s The Black Candle, and composed poetry for it
Political Life • Maya served on two presidential committees in her life • In 2000, Angelou won the Presidential Medal of the Arts • In 2008, she won the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal, a medal for leaving a lasting legacy on America, similar to President Lincoln himself • She is nowadays known as Dr. Maya Angelou, due to her outstanding academic career, and art career
Poetical Life • Maya Angelou lived a long, rich, and beautiful, yet unfortunate and macabre life, which is what inspired her to write her artistic poetry • Maya’s main theme in poetry was the living and loving of life and the fight against racial discrimination • She also has many cook books, and books on her life as a dancer and actress
Harlem Hopscotch • A poem that discusses the hardships of living in the slums of New York, in Harlem • “Good things for the ones that’s got” • In lines one through four, the poem tells that that in Harlem, work is a complex thing for Blacks, and that even children are aware of the harsh conditions, thud playing hopscotch to find good times in the environment they live in, and they are constantly looking out for their own well-being • “Everybody for hisself”
Harlem Hopscotch • In lines five through eight, Angelou is stating that despite there being almost nothing for the blacks, they must keep pushing on, because that is what they do to survive in the harsh world thy were put into • “Since you black, don’t stick around” • Lines nine through twelve state that people can only wait for work, and that if they do anything very good, they aren’t rewarded, but if they do slightly bad, they get overly punished
Harlem Hopscotch • The closing couplet of this poem is a statement that shows that all of the hopping in her hopscotch game may have ended up not helping her, but the effort that she put into it turns her into a winner, so it is a theme that states that you may do a lot and never be rewarded with what you need, but if you put any effort into your life, you are happy with what the effort you put into it, you had a good life
References • "Harlem Hopscotch." Poetry for Students. Ed. Marie Rose Napierkowski and Mary Ruby. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 92-101. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 May 2014. • "Maya Angelou - Biography." Maya Angelou - Biography. Hart+Vine, 2014. Web. 01 June 2014.