To celebrate what would have been the legendary Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday today, Google released a video doodle that features one of Angelou’s most famous poems, “Still I Rise.” The animated poetry reading includes Angelou’s voice and the voices of a few people inspired by her: Alicia Keys, Laverne Cox, Oprah Winfrey, America Ferrera, Martina McBride, and Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.
Born Marguerite Johnson, young Maya Angelou was raised by her grandmother, who taught her the importance of faith, family and honest work. Carrying these values with her through her incredible life and career, Angelou went on to become the first African American woman to write a nonfiction best-seller, the first African American and first woman poet to read at a presidential inauguration and the first Black woman to have her screenplay filmed.
“Through her works, Dr. Angelou gave a voice to millions. She championed women’s rights and gender equality. She redefined Black beauty and celebrated African American oral traditions. She advocated against war and campaigned for universal peace,” Google said in a press release.
Today, Angelou, who received over 30 honorary degrees, is remembered as an iconic poet, performer, filmmaker, historian, civil rights activist, and one of the most influential literary voices of our time.
Oprah Winfrey said of her friend and mentor, “Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she did it all. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence, and a fiery, fierce grace and abounding love.”
In the words of actress Laverne Cox, Maya Angelou is “a national treasure we should always celebrate.”
If you haven’t already, visit the Google homepage to see the video doodle of Maya Angelou.