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Muse Maya Angelou – An Inspired Life

Muse, Sustainable Style,

Muse Maya Angelou - An Inspired Life

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”

Remembering Maya Angelou on her birthday, showing us the way. One of our all-time Muses behind what we do here at All The Wild Roses &  our Dare to Dream Project, empowering women through design.

Here are inspiring facts about Maya Angelou’s inspiring life, who would have turned 90 years old today.

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Dr. Maya Angelou was never named an official United States Poet Laureate, but few have reached her level of cultural significance. Her verses are at the very heart of the American experience.

Yet she didn’t start out as a poet. She began her artistic career as a dancer, performing in San Francisco and training in New York City. But that was just the tip of the iceberg for a woman who lived an incredible, adventurous life that defied a humble childhood.

Here are inspiring facts about Maya Angelou’s inspiring life, who would have turned 90 years old today.

1. She Was The First Black Woman To Conduct A Cable Car in San Fransisco

As a teenager, Maya Angelou earned a scholarship to study dance and drama at the California Labor School, but she briefly dropped out when she was 16 to become a cable car conductor in San Francisco. “I saw women on the street cars with their little changer belts,” she told Oprah Winfrey, explaining why she wanted the job. “They had caps with bibs on them and form-fitting jackets. I loved their uniforms. I said that is the job I want.” She got it and became the first black woman to hold the position.

2. She Spoke Six Languages 

Angelou’s time in Europe also gave her the chance to hear other languages, and she paid very close attention. Ultimately, she learned to speak French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, and Fante (a dialect of Akan native to Ghana).

3. She Didn’t Speak For Five Years In Her Youth.

When she was just a child, Angelou was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. She told her brother about the incident and was later called to testify against the man in court, which led to his conviction. Ultimately, he served just one day in jail. Four days after his release, he was murdered—presumably by one of Angelou’s family members—and Angelou blamed herself for his death.

“I thought, my voice killed him,” she later wrote of her attacker. “I killed that man because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again because my voice would kill anyone.” For the next five years, Angelou refused to speak. Literature helped her find her voice again.

4. She Wrote Several Movies

By the end of her career, there were very few art forms Angelou hadn’t participated in (which is how she wound up with both a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize nomination and three Grammy Wins, but it’s still delightfully surprising to know that Angelou was also a filmmaker. She first acted and sang in 1957’s Calypso Heat Wave but eventually turned to screenwriting for 1972’s Georgia, Georgia (a romance about an African American singer who falls in love while performing in Stockholm), and then to directing with 1998’s Down in the Delta starring Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes.

5. She Was Only The Second Poet In History To Recite Work At A Presidential Inauguration

When President John F. Kennedy took the oath of office in 1961, the legendary Robert Frost became the first poet to participate in the inauguration ceremony. Lending her voice to President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, Angelou was the first poet since Frost to enjoy the honor of the august platform, reading the centuries-spanning epic “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she wrote for the occasion. Her recitation scored her a 1994 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

Muse Maya Angelou - An Inspired Life

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