Renowned American poet and author, Maya Angelou, has died at the age of 86. This is why she matters:
1.She didn't take no for an answer
Born on 4th April, 1928, in Missouri, America, Marguerite Annie Johnson grew up in a time when racism was still entrenched in American society. Against all odds, she won a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor School. She later dropped out to become San Francisco's first African American female cable car conductor, before finishing high school and giving birth to her son, Guy. As a young single mother, she worked as a waitress and cook, although her ambition would soon become apparent.
2. Total trailblazer
Her script for the 1972 film, Georgia, Georgia, was the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed. It was nominated for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.
3. Her egalitarian approach
When her Random House editor disapproved of her decision to pen the words to a line of Hallmark cards, she told USA Today, "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."
4. She never stopped learning
Over the years, Angelou has been celebrated as a poet, novellist, teacher, dancer, dramatist, producer, actress, historial, filmmaker and civil rights activist. She studied hard and learnt to speak French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language, Fanti.
5. Her groundbreaking writing
Best known for the 1969 book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography which chronicles her early years, Angelou's work often explores difficult issues like identity, race, gender and trauma, which were (and are) often overlooked by the American literary canon.
Have you read anything by Maya Angelou? Tell us what, in the comments below.