Student Activity

Maya Angelou: A Phenomenal Woman

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Photo caption

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Photo credit: Adria Richards

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Poet. Orator. Actress. Activist. Professor. Writer. Singer. Phenomenal Woman. These and many more superlatives were used to describe the incomparable Maya Angelou. Gone too soon in 2014 at the age of 86, Dr. Angelou’s legacy lives on through the words she used to eloquently, powerfully, and honestly express emotions, capture experiences, and spread hope. Some of Dr. Angelou's works, along with commentary and other classroom ready materials, are provided below. 

I. The Poet

Maya Angelou bio (Poetry Foundation)

Caged Bird Legacy

"Maya Angelou: Live" (video of poetry reading)

"Love Liberates" (video interview)

"And Still I Rise" (PBS American Masters film)

"Why the Caged Bird Raps" (audio) 

Poem Hunter (audio & visual options)

Stages of Freedom: 2019 "And Still I Rise" poetry reading (Rhode Island)

II. Poetry

"Still I Rise" (1978)

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise."

The Poem (with audio option)

Dr. Angelou reading "Still I Rise" (video)

About the Poem

Research Guide

"Phenomenal Woman" (1978)

The Poem (audio option)

About the Poem

Dr. Angelou reading "Phenomenal Woman" (video)

"Caged Bird" (1983)

The Poem

About the poem

Dr. Angelou reading "Caged Bird" (video, PBS Learning Media)

Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Sympathy" (1899)

"I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals –
I know what the caged bird feels!"


"His Day is Done" (2013)

The Poem

Dr. Maya Angelou reading "His Day is Done," a poem written about South Africa's first Black President, Nelson Mandela, upon his death in 2013 (video).

"Abundant Hope" (2011)

The Poem

About the Poem

Dr. Angelou reading "Abundant Hope"  at a reception for the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2011 (video).

"A Brave and Startling Truth" (1995)

The Poem

Dr. Angelou reading "A Brave and Startling Truth" at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations in 1995 (video).

"On the Pulse of Morning" (1993)

The Poem

About the Poem

Dr. Angelou reading "On the Pulse of Morning" at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993 (video).

"A Plagued Journey" (1983)

The Poem

"Woman Work" (1978)

The Poem

Dr. Angelou reading "Woman Work" (video)

"Harlem Hopscotch" (1971)

The Poem

"The Mothering Blackness" (1971)

The Poem