There is no doubt about how inspiring of a human being Maya Angelou is.
While suffering her own incredible hardships, Maya still managed to inspire many throughout her long life.
Though most have grown up knowing her name and having read her works in school, there are definitely still some things about the inspiring woman that most might not know.
Like did you know she close friends with Nelson Mandela or that she once worked with Hallmark?!?
Hmmmmm… Curious to see what else you may not know about Maya?
Then find out…AFTER THE JUMP!!!
1. She was the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco!
This was when she was only 16! She revealed why she worked as a conductor simply by saying: “I loved the uniforms.”
2. She penned a line of bookends, pillows, cards, and more for Hallmark!
Her editor at Random House opposed her writing for Hallmark but Maya had the best response ever as to why she did it. She said; "If I’m America’s poet, or one of them, then I want to be in people’s hands…people who would never buy a book.”
3. She has a favorite item of clothing…
And they're her super comfy Uggs!
4. Maya LOVED country music!
She admitted she listened to Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry, and Jennifer Nettles among many others! A major win for country lovers!
5. She was mute for about five years when she was younger after being raped and molested by her mother's boyfriend.
The man who did it was convicted, jailed for a day, released, and then found dead shortly after. Maya admitted that she didn't speak because: "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone."
6. From 1954-1955 she played Ruby in Porgy & Bess!
She performed the part during a 22-nation tour of Europe which is when she picked up most of the languages she spoke.
7. She had A LOT of famous friends!
While being a major influence on Oprah, Maya was also great friends with Nelson Mandela who she met in Cairo in 1962, she was supposed to hold a march for Martin Luther King Jr., and even knew Malcolm X for a brief time before his assassination!
8. She was the second poet EVER to recite a poem at a President's inauguration.
In 1993, Maya read On The Pulse of Morning when former President Bill Clinton took over office.
9. Not only did she write incredible poems and novels, but she also penned cookbooks!
Two of those being Great Food, All Day Long and Hallelujah! The Welcome Table.
10. Maya had, deservedly, won countless awards throughout her lifetime.
Some of these include the Mother Teresa Award, the National Medal of Arts, the NAACP Image Award, THREE Grammys, the Langston Hughes Medal, and of course the highest honor one can get the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
11. Her mother was the one who hand delivered her son!
Maya had him, now Guy Johnson, back in 1945 when Maya was only 17 years old!
12. Over the course of her career, she wrote SEVEN autobiographies!
These include (in chronological order): I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, and Mom & Me & Mom.
13. When Maya was mute, she memorized as many pieces of literature as she could.
Some of these include 60 of William Shakespeare's sonnets, Edgar Allen Poe, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, among MANY other literary pieces.
14. When writing, she used to do most of, if not all, of her work in a hotel room.
She would pay for one for about a month and it's where she would go every day and on the hotel room she would have "just a bed, a table and a chair, Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, a bottle of sherry, [and] a yellow pad and pens." She also revealed that she wrote her famous poem On the Pulse of Morning in a hotel room!
The world has lost a truly inspiring woman. May she rest in peace.
[Image via WENN.]
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