Maya Angelou


An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but became most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, Angelou was recognized “as a spokesperson for… all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States.” She served on two presidential committees, for Gerald Ford in 1975 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 2000, Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees before her death. Source

The Mothering Blackness

She came home running

    back to the mothering blackness   

    deep in the smothering blackness

white tears icicle gold plains of her face   

    She came home running


She came down creeping

    here to the black arms waiting

    now to the warm heart waiting

rime of alien dreams befrosts her rich brown face   

    She came down creeping


She came home blameless

    black yet as Hagar’s daughter

    tall as was Sheba’s daughter

threats of northern winds die on the desert’s face   

    She came home blameless





Literary Movements:

Black Arts Movement

Anthology Years:



Racial Injustice


Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


the replacement of one part of speech for another, often referred to as a “functional shift.”


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times


correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”