Episode 177: Maya Angelou, Part Three

Maya at Elon University, 2012, Elon Universtiy via Flickr

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, director, producer, mom, friend…but she was most masterful at sharing her life with the perfect collections of words. We use the best ones we can muster to share her remarkable life story.

We wrap up our three-part series on Dr. Angelou beginning as Maya leaves Africa to headed back to the US and work for civil rights leader, and friend, Malcolm X ‘s Organization of African American Unity.  His assassination not long after her arrival sent her into both grief and a search for the next chapter in her life.

Writing. She felt led to be a writer, and the best place for that was back with her literary friends in New York. While there, she took an opportunity to work with her old friend, Martin Luther King, Jr…who was assassinated right before her first day.

But setbacks in life often lead to the perfect path. She threw herself into writing a 10-part PBS series, Blacks, Blues, Black! which lead, in 1969, the publication of her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

For the rest of her (long) life, she combined all of her life experiences, her gifts, her skills, and her wisdom and shared it with the world. She was a memoirist, a poet, a playwright, a songwriter, a performer, a lecturer, an educator…a grandmother…she loved and lost, and all along the way she captured her words in the perfect order projected by her strong personality (and often her unique voice) to leave her mark on our world.

1993 Clinton inauguration Courtesy Clinton Presidential Library
President Obama bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 Courtesy White House

Maya Angelou died on May 28th, 2014 at the age of 86. No one can tell her story like she did, so we’ll leave you with Maya herself sharing a little of her words and wisdom.

Time Travel With The History Chicks


Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC.

You can read every one of her perfectly chosen words in this massive tome: 

Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC

The only detailed biography Susan could find but written before her death by Marcia Anne Gillespie, Rosa Johnson Butler, and Richard A. Long; foreword by Oprah Winfrey
Maya’s essays about memorable food in her life and the recipes- delightful! (And her fried chicken recipe is in here!)
More autobiographical essays with recipes for international dishes all based around her weight loss through portion control.
By Editors of Essence Magazine, essays about her.
Great series for kids, by Ellen LaBrecque



Here is a whole lot of information (and pictures) about the Rosenwald Schools like the one a young Maya Johnson attended: The Rosenwald Schools.

Short NPR interview in the last year of her life, and one where she talks about her time with Porgy and Bess.

There was some discussion about the pronunciation of her name, we went with Maya’s which we found here: Maya Angelou Explains Her Name.

Brain Pickings article about the daily routines of famous writers.

An article on the Quote Investigator site discussing the phrase “Churchillian Drift” coined by radio host, Nigel Rees of the BBC show Quote Unquote (so QI is fact-checking something the OG quote fact-checker said.)

There is a Maya Barbie…do we know what to think about this? 

Her estate maintains a website, there is some information, pictures, and a link to the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation if you would like to get involved in her life’s work.

Some information (read: the opening of the hole Beckett fell down) the Hawaiian Jazz scene.

Maya’s obituary through a Caribbean lens.

Lift Every Voice and Sing lyrics and essay (from the Library of Congress, no less!)

“Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, Metropolitan Opera:

This makes sense if you listened to the episode, but we simply can not leave it out!

Caged Bird Songs, Maya’s own words with a beat, it may be an acquired taste.

Moving Pictures!

Maya’s first adventure in television occurred in 1968 when she wrote, produced, and hosted a 10-part PBS series Blacks, Blues, Black! The whole series is online HERE!

If you would like to learn about the incredible discovery that made our viewing (here in the future) possible, here’s an article about it: From The Archive

There are so very many interviews with her, if you start with this one, with her dear friend, Oprah, YouTube will connect you with maaaaany more.


PBS has an American experience about Dr. Angelou, it’s streaming on Prime through the PBS Documentaries subscription, but you may be able to find it elsewhere, here’s more information about that Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.

And, finally, we want you to listen to Maya read and speak her own words, she left so many treasures for us.

We’re going to be in London in August and would love for you to join us for a Thames River Dinner cruise on August 7th, 2021! Get more info and sign-up here at Like Minds Travel

The first break song was A Fork Where a Fork Don’t Fit by James Harper, the second was Sonata Pathétique in C minor by Mario Ajero

End music: Press On by Loot

music used with permission by both iLicenseMusic and James Harper