Women Who Inspire Us: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou speaking at an event

"Here, on the pulse of this new day, 
You may have the grace to look up and out
 And into your sister's eyes, and into 
Your brother's face, your country 
And say simply 
Very simply 
With hope—Good morning." 

From "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou. 

A poet, singer, autobiographer, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou inspires us with both the beauty and the call to action of her words.  

Her most famous work is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography about her childhood. The book is a testament to the need for resilience in the face of discrimination. As the image of the caged bird illustrates, there is power and grace in facing adversity head-on. 

"All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated," Angelou said. 

A prolific writer, Angelou published more than a dozen books, including autobiographies, essays, and poetry. She also appeared in a long list of plays, movies and television shows. She received many awards, including the Springarn Medal in 1994, the National Medal of Arts in 2000, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. 

Angelou's call for resilience – no matter what – inspires hope. Many of the great women we've featured in our newsletters have taken her message to heart, overcoming setbacks and obstacles to lead, discover, and make the world a better place. We're inspired to do the same!