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Essay on Maya Angelou: An Example of Perseverance

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Maya Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, dropped out of high school, was a teenage mom, and constantly dealt with racism. Who would have thought that someone who had gone through so much would someday be such a confident, inspirational woman? Maya Angelou’s confidence in herself and the African American race that she demonstrates in her poetry gives others courage to speak for themselves. Three poems by Angelou that display her confidence are “Still I Rise,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and “Phenomenal Woman.” While each poem is written differently, they all express confidence and the idea of having the courage to stand up for oneself.
Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. According to “Maya Angelou - Biography,” growing up, Maya had to deal with racism and discrimination towards African Americans. When she was young, she was very interested in arts and music, and as a teenager, Maya earned a dance and drama scholarship in San Francisco, California. When she was 14 years old, she dropped out of school and she worked many jobs to support her and her family (Maya Angelou - Biography). Poetryfoundation.org states that Maya finished high school when she was 17 years old and had her first son, Guy, not long after graduation (Maya Angelou).
Maya Angelou - The Official Website says that in 1960, Maya moved to Egypt, and later to Ghana. She met Malcolm X in Ghana in 1964, and would later go back to the U.S. with him to start an organization in support of African Americans. Maya was eventually asked by Martin Luther King, Jr. to be a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Maya Angelou - Biography). In 1970, Maya Angelou published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was i...


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...elly Holland. "Maya Angelou." Maya Angelou. University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1998. Web. 06 May 2014.
Hagen, Lyman B. Heart of a Woman, Mind of a Writer, and Soul of a Poet (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1997): pp. 127–29. Quoted as "'Still I Rise' and the Black Spiritual 'Rise and Shine'" in Harold Bloom, ed. Maya Angelou, Bloom's Major Poets. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 2001. (Updated 2007.) Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 6 May 2014.
"Maya Angelou - Biography." Maya Angelou. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. .
"Maya Angelou." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Thursby, Jacqueline S. "'Phenomenal Woman'." Critical Companion to Maya Angelou: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2011. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 7 May 2014.



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