Maya Angelou in a black dress, hand on her heart standing at a microphone.

1928 – 2014

“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.”

Before she became a famous author, Maya Angelou had been a cook, an actor, a cable car conductor and a dancer. Even though she had lots of interests and many jobs, Maya Angelou’s true love was writing. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969. It made her an international star and allowed her to write full time. Many of Maya’s books focus on the struggles in her life. But she had the courage to tell her story and let people know how she overcame them.

Are you courageous enough to be open about the struggles you encounter?

Our teacher’s guide is a handy starting place to explore courage. This guide helps teachers recognize and encourage courage in the classroom. Our primary site also has a version for primary teachers.

Two other amazing women who showed courage through their writing were Wang Zhenyi of China and Rachel Carson of the USA. Zhenyi was a poet and wrote about the difficult situation poor women faced in rural China in the 18th century. At the time of her writing, women were not educated or considered equal to men. Rachel published a book which highlighted the dangers to the planet of using pesticides. The companies who made the chemicals put her under a lot of pressure, but her courage helped her to do what she believed was right. Both have incredible stories that are worth exploring.

Who do you admire in public life who shows courage to stand up for what they believe in? How do they get their message across?

Photo: John Mathew Smith & from Laurel Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0