Maya Angelou Projects

by Lauren Carlson-Vohs
A longtime friend of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou spoke at Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular on May 17, 2011.

A longtime friend of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou spoke at Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular on May 17, 2011.

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Maya Angelou's personal website describes her as a "Global Renaissance Woman." Drawn to the arts as a young teenager, she continued on that path her entire life, performing in musicals, plays, opera, theater, dance, television and movies. In her later years she has become best known for her writing. In whatever she does, she gives a powerful voice to the African American experience, and to the richness of the human experience. Learning about her life and many creative works is an enriching experience for all ages.

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Organize A Study Group

Ask around among family, friends and co-workers to find out who is interested in forming a study group to learn more about Maya Angelou's life. Many people are familiar with her writings, but are not aware of her many other accomplishments. A detailed timeline of her life is available online at History Timelines. Begin by dividing up periods in her life for study group members to research and report back on. Host an evening of storytelling, wine and cheese sampling and plan for future gatherings to continue learning about her life. Encourage members to bring photos, writings, recordings of her singing and footage of her acting to help bring the time period to life.

Book Club Project

If you are already part of a book club, suggest a particular written work of Maya Angelou's. Everyone may read the same book or each person might select a different work, with discussion ensuing accordingly. Another option is to focus exclusively on her poetry. Check out Maya Angelou reading many of her works online or on audiobooks. Listening to her personal delivery brings heightened meaning to her work.

Introduce to Young Children

People of all ages are drawn to Maya Angelou. One of her accomplishments is the children's book "Life Doesn't Frighten Me." It's great at helping children overcome their fears. Children are especially intrigued to hear her read this book herself. View and listen to the recording of her reading "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" on YouTube.

Offer A Class

As you learn more about Maya Angelou, think of ways to share that information with others. Create a Powerpoint presentation to lay the groundwork for offering a class. Think about who your ideal audience is and tailor it accordingly. Community education programs provide an opportunity, as do online learning forums, relevant organizations and places of worship. Target it to a younger audience for in-school presentation or a Girl Scout gathering. Maya Angelou's life lends itself to many themes -- developing leadership, expressing creativity, overcoming adversity, promoting diversity and tolerance, to name just a few. Find the aspects of her life which resonate with you and share your inspiration.

Resources

About the Author

Lauren Carlson-Vohs has successfully worked as a freelance writer since 1992, writing for nonprofits and businesses. Topics she especially enjoys writing about include integrative health care, education, environmental issues, mind/body research and spirituality. Carlson-Vohs lives in Minneapolis and holds a Master of Arts in anthropology from the University of Minnesota.

Photo Credits

  • Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images