Maya Angelou: A Source of Humanity Essay

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Maya Angelou: A Source of Humanity

"I am human," Angelou said, "and nothing human can be alien to me" (Shafer).

Maya Angelou just may be the most "human" person in the world. Indeed, with all of the struggles she went through in her early life, her humanness increasingly deepened. Her life was characterized by the instability of her childhood and her family, along with the challenge of being a black woman growing up in 19th century America. The deepness of her humanness is evident in all of her writings, from her autobiographies to her poetry. Now a success today, Angelou's major themes are inspired by the dream of overcoming the struggles that were ever-present in her life.

Born April 4, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri, Maya
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When Angelou was about three years old, her parents, Bailey Johnson, a naval dietician, and Vivian Johnson, divorced, and Maya and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Angelou claims that her grandmother, whom she called "momma, had a deep-brooding love that hung over everything she touched" (Burt). Growing up in Stamps, Angelou learned what it was like to be a black girl in a world whose boundaries were set by whites. She was conditioned to think that white girls had better lives than black girls. Despite the odds, her grandmother instilled pride and confidence in Angelou that would benefit her for years to come (Shafer).

After five years of being apart from their mother the children were sent back to St. Louis to be with her. This move eventually deeply scarred Angelou when she was raped by her mother's boyfriend at the age of 8 (Burt). Following this incident and the rapist's threats, Maya was mute for nearly five years. She was sent back to Stamps to live with her grandmother because her mother could not deal with the grim state Angelou was in. With the constant help of a woman named Mrs. Flowers, who was a close friend of her grandmother, Angelou began to retrieve the pride and confidence she once had. Then in 1940, Maya and her brother were sent to San Francisco to live with their mother. But, yet again, life

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