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Feb 13, 2020

Honoring Maya Angelou, an icon of our time

February is Black History Month. In honor of this time of year, Equality NC is creating space to honor black icons whose work, live and legacies have proven integral to the advancement of lived equality for marginalized folks. We hope you’ll enjoy these weekly profiles throughout the month, and consider the ways in which these individuals have laid the foundation for ENC’s work across our state today.

Today we’re lifting up Maya Angelou, an individual whose deeply profound impact on our movement is hard to quantify. Angelou is a poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist who organized alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and served on the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Throughout her life, Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.

Her most well-known work, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” is an autobiography and coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. Angelou used her autobiography to explore subjects such as identity, rape, racism and literacy, and writes in innovative ways about women's lives in a male-dominated society In 1982, Angelou was named the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and still lived in Winston-Salem at the time of her death in 2014.

It’s difficult to encompass the life and legacy of Maya Angelou in a few short paragraphs. But I think Gary Younge said it best: “To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn’t have to go through half the things she has."

The work of Equality North Carolina is directly informed by the life, legacy and values of Maya Angelou. This Black History Month, we’re asking you to consider supporting the work of ENC as we continue to fight for a world more just and equitable world for black folks, queer folks, and everyone marginalized by power and privilege.

Please consider supporting the work of ENC today -- and keep an eye out for more profiles in your inbox in the coming weeks!

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