Dr. Maya Angelou died at the age of 86 Wednesday after battling a long illness. WBFO’s Ashley Hirtzel caught up with University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor Bruce Jackson to discuss the impact the poet, activist, and performer had on the nation.
Jackson says Angelou she was a superb writer who authored poetry, essays and books about life in a way no one ever had before.
"Maya Angelou had a huge impact on the writing community in several regards. She was a woman who did almost everything in her life and had things done to her. She had a difficult childhood. She was raped as a kid. She worked at almost every kind of job before turning to writing. She was a dancer, a singer, an actress. She began writing about her life," Jackson says.
Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928 and grew up in a segregated society. She worked for most of her life to change that culture, especially through the civil rights era. Angelou was best recognized for the first of her series of memoirs, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.’ The autobiography made her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller.
Jackson says Angelou spoke at UB about a decade ago. He says she was "fabulous" speaker.
"She talked about her life and her life in writing and what it was like growing up and what it was like becoming a writer. A lot of the students who were there were absolutely enraptured by what she had to say. She was a woman full of incredible energy," Jackson says.
Jackson says one of the reasons Angelou’s story is so inspiring is that even though everything in her early life worked against her, she was able to overcome the many challenges she faced.