The book is an autobiography and the story of Angelou’s childhood. Born to a poor African American family, Maya and her brother Bailey spend the first years of life living with their grandmother in a small town in the American south. Though she is dealing with abandonment issues and the pervasive prejudice of the time (which unfortunately still exists today), Maya still finds joy and pleasure in learning.
Her life is forever altered when she is assaulted by a much older man after returning to her mother in St. Louis. Later, as a teenager who by then is living in San Fransisco, she discovers the power of literature and the strength that comes when you learn to love yourself.
Why I have never read this book, I don’t know. But I am glad I did.
Her experience as a girl is both universal and powerfully specific to the era she grew up in. Finding confidence, especially after a hard girlhood, sometimes only occurs long after we have grown up. Looking back at my own teenage years, I wish I would have had the ability to develop that same self-belief that Angelou was able to manifest at that same age. Perhaps some things might have turned out differently.
I can only imagine the emotional digging it took to excavate the crap from her youth and put it into a narrative that we can all find something in common. It takes courage to do that. When it is done well (as she obviously has accomplished), it opens the door for readers to possibly do the same with their own lives and emotional baggage.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is available wherever books are sold.
There are some events in our lives that we never forget, regardless of how much time has passed.
The end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 were politically difficult. Like many Americans, I was shocked, angry, and questioning how a man like you know who could have been elected to the highest office in the land. At the time, I was told by someone to give him a chance. After all, he was a political virgin. There was a tiny glimmer of hope that with time and help from those who were experienced that he would grow into the job.
How wrong we were. The late and respected poet Maya Angelou once said the following:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
The last four years having been a wake up call, to say the least. Real democracy is not given, it must be earned and protected. Watching the inauguration on Wednesday, I felt as if there was a weight taken off our collective shoulders.
The words “history making” have been used countless times since November. Watching Vice President Harris take the Oath of Office, I couldn’t help but cry. The generations who have fought for equality for both women and people of color have not fought in vain. Comparatively speaking, writing or changing laws is a thousand times easier than changing hearts and minds. She stood on that podium not because of any laws, but because of the old ideas of what is or is not “appropriate” for certain members of our society have begun to fade away.
I have to admire President Biden. This was his third Presidential election. Given his age and his long career in politics, it would have been easy to retire and let someone else take the reins. But he saw the opportunity and the need and he stepped forward.
I do not envy of the job that the Biden administration has in front of them. To say that is a Herculean task is understatement. But I have hope and faith that with time, they will guide us out of this darkness and back into the light.