Maya Angelou (born April 4, 1928) is an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. Angelou is known for the autobiographical writings "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1969) and All "God's Children Need Traveling Shoes" (1986). Her volume of poetry, "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die" (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993, Angelou read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" for Bill Clinton's Presidential inauguration at his request..
"The white American man makes the white American woman maybe not superfluous but just a little kind of decoration. Not really important to turning around the wheels of the state. Well the black American woman has never been able to feel that way. No black American man at any time in our history in the United States has been able to feel that he didn't need that black woman right against him, shoulder to shoulder -- in that cotton field, on the auction block, in the ghetto, wherever."
"Each of us has the right and the responsibility to asses the road which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the feature road looms ominous or unpromising, and the road back uninviting-inviting, then we need to gather our resolve and carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that one as well."
"Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence -- neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish -- it is an imponderably valuable gift. Each of us has a few minutes a day or a few hours a week which we could donate to an old folks home or a children's hospital ward. The elderly whose pillows we plump or whose water pitchers we refill may or may not thank us for our gift, but the gift is upholding the foundation of the universe."
"All of childhood's unanswered questions must finally be passed back to the town and answered there. Heroes and bogey men, values and dislikes, are first encountered and labeled in that early environment. In later years they change faces, places and maybe races, tactics, intensities and goals, but beneath those penetrable masks they wear forever the stocking-capped faces of childhood."
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