Arts, News

Maya Angelou’s Work Will Live On

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Maya Angelou. Image: Adria Richards
Maya Angelou. Image: Adria Richards

The current president of the United States named his daughter after her.

Her friends included civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., famous choreographer Alvin Ailey, singer Billie Holiday, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and former U.S. president Bill Clinton and she influenced millions around the world.

Not bad for a humble poet, eh?

But Maya Angelou was so much more than a poet. She died this week at the age of 86, but her words will live on forever.

In addition to her poetry, Angelou was perhaps most famous for her autobiography (the story of her life which she wrote) called “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

She rose from relatively humble beginnings, the daughter of a doorman and a nurse, to become a leader in a mind-boggling number of fields.

In addition to writing many books, plays, movies and TV shows, she was an actress, a journalist and an activist for human rights, including working to end racism against blacks in South Africa. She was a singer in nightclubs, a restaurant cook, and the first female African-American streetcar conductor in San Francisco. She formed a dance troupe with Alvin Ailey, toured Europe in an opera called Porgy and Bess, was an administrator of the University of Ghana in Africa, and spoke six languages.

She was a journalist, a market researcher and a famously wonderful cook, who also wrote two cookbooks. She created greeting cards for card company Hallmark, and she published seven autobiographies and 30 books.

Angelou composed songs for movies, and she was nominated for a Tony Award (a top award given to actors in stage plays), and a Pulitzer Prize for writing.

After all of her success in so many different areas, she referred to herself as, simply, “a teacher who writes,” according to the website Wikipedia.

Although she never earned a university degree, Angelou taught philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theatre and writing in universities. She received 30 honourary degrees from universities.

Her influence was felt, and will continue to be felt by millions of people around the world.

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
–Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou passed away at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the U.S. on Wednesday. She was 86 years old.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Maya Angelou was many things in her lifetime. But what is more impressive is that she did so many things well. Some people say that if you do too many different things you will never be able to achieve success in any endeavour, yet Maya Angelou’s life suggests that the opposite is true. Is she the exception to the rule or is it possible to be great at many different things? Why do you think so? Use examples to support your position.

Reading Prompt:
Maya Angelou shared many great words of wisdom in her lifetime. From the list below, choose one to be your “words to live by.”

1. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

2. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

4. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

5. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”

6. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by con- necting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by con- necting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature: Compound Adjectives
A compound word is a word that is created by bringing together two unique words. In some cases, compound words are joined together to make one new word (e.g. “daycare”), sometimes a hyphen is placed between them (e.g. “mind-boggling”), and sometimes a space is maintained (e.g. “school year”).

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. A noun is a word that tells of a person, place, or thing.

Rewrite the words below by either joining them together, using a hyphen ( – ), or placing a space between.

1. waiting-room ___________________________
2. warmup _______________________________
3. father in law ____________________________
4. life-span _______________________________
5. redhot _________________________________

What strategies did you use to help solve the form of each compound adjective?