“You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

– Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an author, poet, actress, activist and acclaimed world-renowned speaker. Angelou published over 20 books; seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, among other literary accomplishments. She is best known for her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). On January 20, 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. In 2000, Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Arts and, in 2008, the Lincoln Medal. In 2010, President Obama awarded Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Angelou has also won three Grammy Awards for her spoken-word albums.

The materials displayed offer an intimate look at Angelou’s process as a writer and thinker and includes handwritten and typed drafts of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and “On the Pulse of Morning,” letters from Malcolm X and James Baldwin, and a portrait of Angelou in Ghana in 1963, among other treasures from the Maya Angelou Papers.

 

Banner photograph by Martha Swope

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