kat himmel | curious thing
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maya's a free bird

maya's a free bird

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#art/#history: we should all thank james baldwin for hoodwinking maya angelou (born #otd in 1928) into writing her way out of the profound depression that engulfed her when martin luther king jr was assassinated. the result was her seminal masterpiece - & the first instalment of her autobiographical novels - 'i know why the caged bird sings'. painful as her early life was (at the age of 8, she was raped by her mum's boyfriend & she led a rather itinerate life thereafter), if she'd only experienced the first 17 years, it'd have been full by anyone's standards. she went on to work with mlk as the northern coordinator for the southern christian leadership conference. they made fast friends & she often spoke of his modesty & humanitarianism. maya didn't just change the world with her poetry. she wrote lyrics, crafted cookbooks, produced documentaries & directed films. in her early days, she scraped together a meagre living as a madame & a sex worker. she wanted to destigmatise everyone's past, writing: 'i wrote about these experiences because i thought too many people tell young folks :i never did anything wrong. who, moi? - never i. i have no skeletons in my closet. in fact, i have no closet.: they lie like that & then young people think :damn, i must be a pretty bad guy: they can't forgive themselves & go on with their lives.'

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