Inspirations: Maya Angelou

Inspirations: Maya Angelou

In this series of articles, I’m going to give you a closer look at the amazing women, who inspired millions and are not known for being mothers. Motherhood was just one part of their lives, while they have also stayed truthful and close to themselves.

I would like to present them to you today, as mothers.

Maya Angelou



Saying that you can write a book about somebody's life is an understatement when talking about Maya Angelou. About the life of this incredible woman, you can fill up quite a library. Best known for being a writer, poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson) shared her life with us through her works as a writer and poet. Before she became known from that, she has made also experiences in her life as a cook, sex worker, nightclub performer, foreign correspondent, actress and director and producer of plays, movies and TV programmes. And exactly this variety of professions and experiences made her artistic work so touching. She understood life like nobody else and she shared her passion for it so gracefully.


“My greatest blessing has been the birth of my son” - she told Oprah. And then she added, that the second greatest blessing in her life was the ability to turn people into children of hers. Which is such a beautiful take on motherhood and the spirit of it. To have such a huge heart to have enough love for the people, to inspire people and touch their hearts. This is something, that only a mother can do indeed. And it’s worth acknowledging, that you don’t need to give birth to be a mother figure.


And motherhood was not particularly easy for Maya Angelou. Giving birth at only 17 years old is already hard enough, but Maya Angelou had also quite a difficult relationship with her mother. When she was 3 years old and her brother was 5 years old, they were sent to live with their grandparents. They reunited when Maya turned 13 years old. She moved to California to live quite a different life. Her mother, as you might have noticed already, was far from conventional. Starting with dancing on her own to very loud jazz music to being completely accepting and supportive with her 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy. Even today, not seeing a teen pregnancy as a scandal and supporting your very young child into her own independent life is not a part of the norm.


Maya Angelou often mentioned that the greatest gift she has received from her mother was courage. But their relationship, once it developed, was also full of mutual respect. Maya adored her mother and her mother was inspired by her. This dynamic between mother and a child also translated into her motherhood. She has supported her son no matter what and she always has treated him with respect. The testimonial to their relationship is his answer to the journalist’s question, how was it to grow up in his mother’s shadow? “I grew up in her light” - he said, and as a mother, this is what I would love my children to think of me as well.


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