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African and African American Studies (AAAS)

Resources for researching African and African American culture and history at the University of Memphis Libraries.

African American Poets

                    Featured Poet: Maya Angelou

      (April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014)

Quote: "If you are always trying to live normal you will never know how amazing you can be." Dr. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928. Sadly, she was raped as a child by her mother's boyfriend, Freeman. He was charged with rape and released the next day. Freeman was killed, and Angelou blamed herself. She believed her voice killed Freeman and would not speak for nearly five years. During her years of silence, Angelou developed a love for literature.  

She found her voice again and later became one of the most powerful orators alive. Although she is no longer here, her voice is heard through her poems, interviews, plays, movies, and books. She is known for her empowering poem “Phenomenal Woman" and one of her many books, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".