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Transcript of Maya Angelou
Call to Adventure
Around the age of six and seven Maya Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. For a long time Maya Angelou stopped speaking and started to shut herself out from the world. It was Momma who introduced Angelou to Mrs. Flowers, a black well educated woman. Angelou describes her as, “Mrs. Bertha Flowers was the aristocrat from Black Stamps. She had the grace of control to appear warm in the coolest winter, and on the Arkansas summer days it seemed she had a private breeze whish swirled around, cooling her off,”(Angelou 93). Mrs. Flowers gave back Angelou's voice. She would make Angelou read out loud poetry and stories from William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence. It was from here on that Maya Angelou started to love reading, dancing and acting. Angelou’s love for reading helped her gain creativity and sees a world beyond her village in Stamps. Angelou also started to wonder if she could change the treatment of black people.
Accepting of the Call
As Angelou stayed longer at her grandma's home town racism was not getting better, but she realized that she could help change it. She slowly developed her identity through her lessons from Mrs. Flowers. Angelou also opened up to her high school teacher, Mrs. Kilwin, who treated her equally. She became close friends with a young girl called Louise. At this time, Maya Angelou felt confident and wanted to try to become an entertainer for the world. Sometime in her early teens Maya Angelou accepted that lots of white people are actually just the same as black people at a nightclub when she ran away from her father’s friend’s house. She heard all the tales from people all over the club and learned that there was more to a person than their race and color. Joe Louis in Maya Angelou's life was an important person in the community. He was caught on trial and once he won the case Angelou states, "It wouldn't do for a Black man and his family to be caught on a lonely country road on a night when Joe Louis had proved that we where the strongest people in the world," (Angelou 136). Knowing this, Angelou as more hope and confidence to get her dreams.
Maya Angelou's first and far most idol was William Shakespeare. She first introduced him as, "During these years In Stamps, I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare. He was my first white love," (Angelou 13). Shakespeare still was Angelou's first and last love. Through her childhood she would constantly read his books. He was her strength to become a great writer and poet. Also, Angelou's curiosity became her special talent. She would constantly wonder how and why the white treated the black unequally. This curiosity helped her gain confidence and knowledge in her life.
Entering the Unknown
After her school years and education, Maya Angelou's life changed when she discovered she was pregnant. At age seventeen, Maya gave birth to her son, Guy Angelou. Guy became her biggest reason to stay strong and supportive. She started to work in restaurants, sang at nightclubs and became a journalism, just to provide a living for her and her son. As a young mother, Angelou emerged in a new stage of womanhood. Here she struggled to stay alive as a single parent. She was scared and didn’t know at all how to raise herself and even more, a child. She moved a lot and looked at the world and way of living very differently. In an article I chose it explains how she lived, “Angelou and her son lived in a houseboat commune in California, where they went barefoot, wore jeans and let their hair grow long,” (Barton 2). Angelou also traveled to twenty-two countries while on a dance and music tour. From the travels Maya spoke fluent French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Fante, a Western language. Angelou entered a world outside her hometown that made her see diversity more than ever before.
At age three, Maya Angelou and her brother, Bailey, moved to Stamps, Arkansas, where their grandma and Uncle Willie lived. Her grandma, Momma, owned the only store in Stamps and raised Maya and Bailey in a very strict religious way. While living with her grandma, Angelou was exposed to lots of racism and segregation at a very young age. In her early childhood, Angelou was very insecure about herself. In the beginning of her autobiography Angelou was about six or seven years old in a church on Easter. This was what Angelou started with, "What are you looking at me for? I didn't come to stay," (Angelou 1). Further on in the book, she referred to herself as ugly and fantasized how she was originally a white girl but got cursed into a black girl. In Maya Angelou's life her brother, Bailey, was described as Angelou's most important person. Bailey showed the same affection and stood up for Maya when she was bullied. Bailey was also the only person Angelou would allow herself to completely open up to even in personal situations.
My passion is reading. Maya Angelou is a great example of my passion. She had written several books explaining about her past. During her childhood Angelou was exposed to a lot of racism, segregation, sexism and got abused. Through Angelou’s stage of overcoming racism and traumas, she grew a similar passion as me: reading. As Angelou's love for reading grew she started to write her own poetry and books. The most and maybe successful book she's written was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. From her books, she told the world her life and experiences as a black women. Latter on her work became a great success and influenced at first other black people then to everyone no matter the color or race. Maya Angelou was a very diverse person. She also grew interest and became an actress, teacher, singer, dancer, journalist, civil rights activist, and even a lecture. The greatest reason why I chose Maya Angelou is because through all her work she had one message to the world. Her exact words are, "You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated," (Barton 1).
Writer and Poet
In this presentation I will guide you through a series of steps from the Hero's Journey starting in Maya Angelou's autobiography,
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
. Throughout the Hero's Journey, Angelou gains courage and finds her own identity before her journey ends.
Refusal of the Call
For years, Maya Angelou never really had confidence. She held back from conversations and would only answer if spoken to. However, Angelou was a very curious girl and wanted to see and do everything. The time she got abused, that all changed. She suffered from memory loss and dulled senses after she got raped. She kept to herself and watched the world go by. Maya Angelou refused to explore her interests in her environment because of all the racism and segregation. She experienced this in her high school a lot. As she got older she would just go with the flow that she would black and had no rights. She saw that even white poor girls treated black people disrespectfully and it angered and pained Maya Angelou to see her grandma and uncle to be treated in such a way. Around the age of ten she saw it played out for the first time, “They called my uncle by his first name and ordered him around the Store. He, to my crying shame, obeyed them in his limping dip-straight-dip fashion. My grandmother, too, followed their orders,” (Angelou 28). This was played out several times throughout the book, causing Angelou to fear doing something that would be wrong or get her people hurt.
Mrs. Flowers had played a very important role in Angelou's life. She was the beginning root of Angelou's success. Mrs. Flowers was a black very well education woman who welcomed Angelou with opened arms. Angelou’s was surprised and flattered that Mrs. Flowers greeted her with cookies, read her poetry and gave her books. Directly from the book, Angelou heard her first out of many life lessons, “She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors,” (Angelou 99). But, Mrs. Flowers was more than just a teacher; she filled Angelou with hope and knowledge. She encouraged Maya Angelou to keep moving and gain more understanding of the world as she aged. She sparked Angelou's passion for reading and poetry which helped Angelou grow her identity.
Louise, Miss Kirwin and her brother were all great supporters in Maya's early life; they helped her go through the hardest times of her life. A white woman, Miss. Kirwin, was Angelou's high school teacher. While all other teachers seemed to treat black and white differently, Miss Kirwin treated everyone the same, “I was Miss Johnson and if I had the answer to a question to question she posed I was never given any more than the word “Correct,” which was that she said to every other student with the corrected answer” (Angelou 216). She helped Angelou improve her writing and reading skills. Her brother, Bailey, might have had the biggest effect on Angelou's life. Maya Angelou even said that her brother was one of the reasons she had the courage to become a writer. Louise was the only person she really became friends with in her youth. They met each other in seventh grade and Angelou found a new companion, “In daring challenge the unknown within be, she became my first friend,” (Angelou 142). She could share girly things and gossip with Louse and she helped Angelou go through her personal developments and emotions.
Tests & Supreme Ordeal
Reward and Journey Home
Master of 2 Worlds/ Restoring the World
What I learned
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
New York: Ballantine Books. 2009. Print.
Barton, Judith, Williamson. "Maya Angelou."
Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia.
Web. 20 October 2014.
Koontz, Tom. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
Masterplots ll: African Literature, Revised Edition.
Literary Reference Center.
Web. 20 October 2014.
Maya Angelou was exposed and had to go through all the racism and traumatic events that changed her life. The event when Angelou tried to tell the court about her mother's boyfriend's abuse was very hard. By telling the whole story, it was one of the many challenges she would face. Her pregnancy was the greatest challenge. Another time was when Maya Angelou ran from her father’s friend’s home. She soon ended up with a group of gangsters. Here she says, “During the month I spent in the yard, I learned to drive, to curse and dance,” (Angelou 253). When Guy was born, Angelou was scared and ashamed that he would be growing up without a father. Working was a hard time in Angelou's life. She barely had any time doing the things she loved and was worried that she would not make enough money to keep her and Guy alive. In doing so, Angelou moved a lot and did everything she could to raise her and her son.
Maya Angelou's work was first banned from the library. Once her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was publiched a whole new world opened up for her. Her work reached out to many people who shared similar experiences in their past. As Maya Angelou continued to communicate to the world more people became aware of the racism and segregation and slowly it subsided. People became more open minded to people of different race and background. Her work inspired other people to help the world and find that voice within them to change the world, no matter how little or big the change was. She was said to be the number one best black autobiographer. In an article her work is described: “Angelou’s very readable story has continued to move and enlighten readers because she has explained the struggle, offered hope of victory, and affirmed the dignity of individual who live by multiplicity,” (Koontz 4). Her work brought her fame and people all around the world could relate to her past, which made Angelou gain lots of rewards. Her rewards included a Grammy, Literation Award, Tony Awards, St. Louis Walk of Fame and the Pulitzer Prizes. She even got a medal from President Obama: Presidential Medal of Freedom. Maya Angelou wrote a series of children's book with Mrs. Flowers for which she also got several rewards.
At the age of thirty-two Angelou's dreams all came true. She wrote seven autobiographies, all about her life in a black community. Angelou eventually also became a teacher, journalist and a lecturer. Her great character in her work and on live interviews captured many people throughout the world. This is connected to what her mother said three weeks after her son was born, “See, you don’t have to think about doing the right thing. If you are for the right thing, then you do it without thinking,” (Angelou 289). With these last words, Angelou said later on in an interview that her mother’s words were very true about her life achievement. Maya Angelou’s other goal in life was to keep her son growing strong and healthy. Her love for her son grew as she watched him become a young man. During Angelou’s success she found peace and joy in her life and work. She was content and developed her own identity by helping others. Maya Angelou died in peace at the age of eighty-six on May 28, 2014.
I learned that Maya Angelou’s past was what made her a great poet and writer. I learned she gained confidence with the help of Mrs. Flowers. Maya Angelou was also more than just a poet and writer. I learned that she was also equally passionate in dancing as in reading. Angelou raised a son all by herself and that she was poor for a very long time poor. She impressed me by writing her life story with great description and humor. From reading, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I can now see how people can relate their life with her and how it turned into a big deal to lots of black people. Maya Angelou also surprised me that all her work was dedicated to her son, Guy Angelou as well as her brother Bailey. What also struck me was that Maya Angelou got her name from her first husband, Tosh Angelo. I realized that Maya Angelou suffered from memory loss and dulled senses after she was raped.