Wonder Women #GGxPE: Maya Angelou

In honor of our collab with the fabulous Gia Graham, Paper Epiphanies will be highlighting the 6 amazing women depicted in these cards during the entire month of February in a new series we call Wonder Women #GGxPE. In this series we aim to show you a side to these notable women that you might not have seen before by presenting, first, the brief biography found on the back of every #GGxPE card and, second, 10 fun facts about their careers, activism and lives. We hope you appreciate them as much as we do!

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an author, actress, dancer, poet, civil rights activist— and Oprah’s friend. Angelou made literary history when her memoir “I know why the caged bird sings” became the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

1. Angelou was originally born Marguerite, which became Maya when her older brother started calling her ‘My’ or ‘Mya sister’.

2. At the age of 16, Angelou became the first black, female cable car conductor in San Fransisco. This lead to a lifetime award she received much later in 2014 from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials at a session titled “Women Who Move the Nation”.

3. Angelou toured around Europe with a troop performing the opera Porgy and Bess and in each of the countries she visited, she made an effort to learn its language, soon becoming proficient in several languages.

4. Angelou met and became good friends with Malcolm X during the years she spent in Ghana, where she was active in the African-American expatriate community.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Angelou’s 40th birthday, and while she was devastated, it was also in this year that Angelou’s creative genius really began to emerge.

6. Angelou’s Georgia, Georgia (1972) was the first screenplay written by a black woman.

7. Angelou participated in a lecture circuit starting in the 1990s and continuing almost until her death in 2014 in her own customized tour bus.

8. Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, making her the first person, since Robert Frost in 1961 to read a poem recitation at a presidential inauguration.

9. Angelou self-proclaimed her image as “the people’s poet”.

10. When Angelou died, she was in the process of writing another autobiography: what would have been her eighth.