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Background Information on Maya A ngelou. Preparation for the Critical Reading/Literary Analysis S ummative Assessment December 9 through December 11, 2013.

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background information on maya a ngelou

Background Information on Maya Angelou

Preparation for the Critical Reading/Literary Analysis Summative Assessment

December 9 through December 11, 2013

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President Harry S. Truman established the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II. President John F. Kennedy reinstated the medal in 1963 to honor distinguished service.

On February 15, 2011, President Barack Obama recognized a former president and 13 others, including poet Maya Angelou, on Tuesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for contributions to society that he said speak to "who we are as a people."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. It is given in recognition of contributions to U.S. national security, world peace, culture or other significant public or private endeavors. Tuesday's medals were the second set Obama has awarded.

In introducing Angelou, who lives in Winston-Salem and teaches at Wake Forest University, Obama talked about the abuse she suffered as a child. That abuse left her unable to speak for five years.

"As a performer and ultimately a writer and poet, Maya Angelou found her voice," he said. "It's a voice that's spoken to millions, including my mother, which is why my sister is named Maya."

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St. Louis, MO - Stan Musial isn't the only person with St. Louis ties to receive a Medal of Freedom. World famous author and poet Maya Angelou is a St. Louis native. Angelou was born Marguerite Ann Johnson in 1928 in St. Louis. Much of her early life here is chronicled in what is probably her most famous book. The 81-year-old poet and author attended several elementary schools here. She was honored in February 2010 for her contributions to culture; her best-selling autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," brought her international fame. In that book, Angelou wrote about being raped by her mother's boyfriend in St. Louis. The incident was so traumatizing, Angelou says she didn't speak for three years. Angelou also composed and read a poem at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. She's been nominated for a Pulitzer and a National Book Award. As a civil rights activist, she worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Angelou has been friends with East St. Louis poet laureate Eugene Redmond for 40 years. Redmond, who shared Thanksgiving dinner with Angelou last year, says he is very proud of his friend and fellow poet.

Source: KSDK TV station

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Remarks by President Obama about Maya Angelou when she received the 2010 Medal of Freedom on February 15, 2011.
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“As a girl, Marguerite Ann Johnson endured trauma and abuse that actually led her to stop speaking.  But as a performer, and ultimately a writer, a poet, Maya Angelou found her voice.  It’s a voice that’s spoken to millions, including my mother, which is why my sister is named Maya.”

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“By holding on, even amid cruelty and loss, and then expanding to a sense of compassion, an ability to love -- by holding on to her humanity -- she has inspired countless others who have known injustice and misfortune in their own lives.  I won’t try to say it better than Maya Angelou herself, who wrote….”

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History, despite its wrenching pain,Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,Need not be lived again.Lift up your eyes uponThe day breaking for you.Give birth againTo the dream.