SHILLINGFORD: The most influential woman I know

Maya Angelou. Courtesy photo

Tatyana Shillingford is a sophomore CIS and accounting major from the Commonwelath of Domica.

Maya Angelou is one of the most influential women of our time. She is one of the great figures in contemporary American literature. Her writing pulls on the hearts of many readers. It is important to fully understand Maya Angelou. Her story is one filled with many trials and tribulations. As soon as she was born, her parents divorced. This paved the way for a damaging childhood and adolescent life and having to overcome struggle and hardship. 

One event that prompted her continual struggle was being raped by her mother’s boyfriend. This traumatizing situation hurt her severely and as a result she became mute for five years. She was counseled and mentored by a family friend, in order to try and help her. After a lot of moving, dealing with rape and being an African-American, Angelou had much to deal with when she was young. Although Angelou did well scholastically, she additionally enjoyed feeling free. As a result, Angelou dropped out of high school and found an occupation as a streetcar conductor for the Market Street Railway Company. She was the first ever African American female to be a San Francisco streetcar conductor. 

She later joined the Harlem Writers Guild which educated her about the civil rights movement. Amid the Civil Rights development, Angelou was acquainted with Martin Luther King Jr. She was awed by his discourse. Angelou was motivated to begin a show called “Cabaret for Freedom”. The show had a lot of benefits which went to Dr. King’s association, SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). When the show met its end, Angelou was left jobless again. Fortunately, the pioneers of SCLC gave Angelou an occupation as their office chief. There, she met one of her biggest influencers in MLK. In the 1960s, Angelou met the pioneer of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X. She helped him create his Organization of African American Unity in America. Martin Luther King additionally designated her to fill in as Northern facilitator of SCLC. 

Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’ poem is one if her many works that resonates with a lot of people: 

“Now you understand, just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing, it ought to make you proud. I say, it’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care, cause I’m a woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” – Maya Angelou. 

This poem allows for nothing but confidence and pride to flow through you knowing you’re a beautiful black woman, helps you to understand that you are enough, you are able and you are strong. Her poetry helps spread the news of equality to African American ladies and to each one of the individuals who are oppressed. It is for this reason, she has received so much critical acclaim.