Long before the rap poetesses of our time were born, literary artists like Madame Maya Angelou took center stage. Still thriving, still loving and living, Angelou has turned 82, and has a message for you.
Born in an era unfriendly to women whose ambitions would take them out of the home or away from a narrow range of “acceptable” jobs, she nonetheless succeeded in many fields. She has led an admirably peripatetic life; she has been an author, dancer, actor, civil rights activist, radio host. Hailed, above all, for her vivid written portrayals of adolescent life in the South and the horrors of her violent childhood, she’s become a role model of resilience for generations of American women.
When she speaks, it is with intense clarity, as if her words are aligned, standing at attention. Untethered from convention and politesse by age, hard-won experience and inner strength, she expresses truths that many women may suspect but are loath to admit. “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels,” she once said. “Life’s a Beyotch. You’ve got to go out and kick a–.”