Today’s Google Doodle is of the phenomenal woman herself, Maya Angelou. The beautiful illustration and animated video has Dr. Angelou reading her legendary poem, interwoven with narration from other women like Alicia Keys, Laverne Cox, and America Ferrera, joined with Dr. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.
The doodle celebrates what would have been Dr. Angelou’s 90s birthday.
Important things to remember as we celebrate Dr. Angelou’s legacy:
- Dr. Angelou was always very politically active and participated in the Civil Rights movement, working with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the ’50s and ’60s. She was also good friends with James Baldwin, who helped get her first book published.
- Besides being an author and actress, some of her other jobs included being a fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer and performer, a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during decolonization in Africa. She also spoke several languages.
- While Dr. Angelou never placed any real label on her sexuality, she was open about the fact that, as a sex worker, she engaged in sex with other women. In her 1996 GLAAD speech, she famously said, “I am gay. I am lesbian. I am black. I am white. I am Native American. I am Christian. I am Jew. I am Muslim.” While she was most likely talking about our shared humanity, I think we can call Dr. Angelou a longtime queer icon.
- Those who read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings know that Angelou was sexually assaulted at the age of seven, and that experience rendered her non-verbal for five years.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969 when Angelou was 41-years old.
Dr. Maya Angelou was a phenomenal woman who lived a full life that, while filled with immense pain, also created a woman who could smile and laugh so broadly. Dr. Angelou wrote down her life story, not to be deified, but so that all could see that all people, regardless of their circumstances, their profession, or their disabilities, can rise.
(image: Scott Eells/Getty Images)
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