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Who Is Maya Angelou?

Thursday 8 June, 2017

Maya Angelou’s work and words made her the preacher and teacher we are familiar with today. In Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise we witness a woman unafraid of a fight with a trailblazing spirit like no other female of her time. We follow Maya’s personal and professional journey from Arkansas to Africa to Harlem where she tirelessly worked to carve her own story and equalise her position in a conflicting political world.

Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack poetically share intimate memories of Maya Angelou through archival footage and interviews with world leaders, entertainers, activists, family, and friends. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is a story of one woman fighting for what is right on her terms and not surrendering to a perceived path.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise will screen daily at the Bertha DocHouse from Friday 9th June. You can watch the trailer and book your tickets: HERE

Ahead of the film’s release we are begging the question: Who Is Maya Angelou? With a multi faceted career in poetry, writing and political activism she is a female who wore many caps.


  • Poetry became Maya Angelou’s closest confidante following a five year period of voluntary muteness.
  • Throughout that time, Maya memorised Shakespeare plays and complex literature that sparked and grew her love of poetry. Maya published poetry spanning 42 years from 1971 until 2013.
  • President Bill Clinton – a fellow Arkansas native – requested Maya Angelou to write and recite a poem at his 1993 presidential inauguration.
  • On the Pulse of Morning became an “eternal gift to America”.
  • The power of her recital told the nation that regardless of race, wealth, struggle or success they were untied and equal.


  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Maya’s first autobiography that placed her on the literary map.
  • It has been noted that she was writing about “who and what she was on paper”, to speak only about the truth of her past.
  • Maya further wished to identify with the younger generation; she too had made some ill choices when young but had since owned them and moved on with her life.
  • Maya would go on to write another six autobiographies.

Political Activist

  • At the tender age of three Maya was sent on a train from LA to Arkansas to live with her Grandmother. It was in the rural town of Stamps that Maya formed her initial impressions of the black world she was subjected to.
  • Her close involvement later in life with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X displayed a courageous side to Maya’s character.
  • Her strength to stand up for inequality and violence came from racial segregation that she again was privy to from a young age in the Deep South.
  • Many continue to regard Maya as a positive representative of the Southern communities.

Celebrate the life and work of Maya Angelou. Join us for a screening of  Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise