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2    WHEREAS, State Representative Monique D. Davis and the
3Illinois House of Representatives are saddened to learn of the
4death of renowned poet Maya Angelou, who passed away on May 28,
52014; and
6    WHEREAS, Marguerite Annie Johnson was born in St. Louis,
7Missouri on April 4, 1928 and raised in St. Louis and Stamps,
8Arkansas; at age 13, she and her brother rejoined their mother
9in San Francisco; she attended Mission High School and won a
10scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco's Labor
11School, where she was exposed to the progressive ideals that
12animated her later political activism; she dropped out of
13school in her teens to become San Francisco's first African
14American female cable car conductor; she later returned to high
15school, but became pregnant in her senior year, graduating a
16few weeks before giving birth to her son, Guy; she left home at
1716 and took on the difficult life of a single mother,
18supporting herself and her son by working as a waitress and
19cook, but she had not given up on her talents for music, dance,
20performance, and poetry; in 1952, she began her career as a
21nightclub singer, and took the professional name, Maya Angelou;
23    WHEREAS, Maya Angelou's performing career flourished; she



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1toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess in
21954 and 1955, studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced
3with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows, and recorded her
4first record album, Calypso Lady; and
5    WHEREAS, Maya Angelou had composed song lyrics and poems
6for many years, and by the end of the 1950s was increasingly
7interested in developing her skills as a writer; she moved to
8New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and took
9her place among the growing number of young black writers and
10artists associated with the Civil Rights Movement; she acted in
11the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks
12and wrote and performed a Cabaret for Freedom with the actor
13and comedian Godfrey Cambridge; and
14    WHEREAS, In 1960, May Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt and
15served as editor of the English language weekly, The Arab
16Observer; she and Guy later moved to Ghana, where she joined a
17thriving group of African American expatriates; she served as
18an instructor and assistant administrator at the University of
19Ghana's School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for
20The African Review, and wrote for The Ghanaian Times and the
21Ghanaian Broadcasting Company; during her years abroad, she
22read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish,
23Italian, Arabic, and the West African language Fanti; she met
24with the American dissident leader Malcolm X in his visits to



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1Ghana, and corresponded with him as his thinking evolved from
2the racially polarized thinking of his youth to the more
3inclusive vision of his maturity; and
4    WHEREAS, Maya Angelou returned to America in 1964, with the
5intention of helping Malcolm X build his new Organization of
6African American Unity; shortly after her arrival in the United
7States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and his plans for a new
8organization died with him; she involved herself in television
9production and remained active in the Civil Rights Movement,
10working more closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who
11requested that she serve as Northern Coordinator for the
12Southern Christian Leadership Conference; his assassination
13left her devastated, but she found solace in writing, and began
14work on the book that would become "I Know Why the Caged Bird
15Sings", which tells the story of her life from her childhood in
16Arkansas to the birth of her child; it was published in 1970 to
17widespread critical acclaim and enormous popular success; and
18    WHEREAS, Seemingly overnight, Maya Angelou became a
19national figure; in the following years, books of her verse and
20the subsequent volumes of her autobiographical narrative won
21her a huge international audience; she was increasingly in
22demand as a teacher and lecturer and continued to explore
23dramatic forms as well; she wrote the screenplay and composed
24the score for the film Georgia, Georgia (1972); her screenplay,



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1the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was
2nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; and
3    WHEREAS, Maya Angelou has been invited by successive
4Presidents of the United States to serve in various capacities;
5President Ford appointed her to the American Revolution
6Bicentennial Commission and President Carter invited her to
7serve on the Presidential Commission for the International Year
8of the Woman; President Clinton requested that she compose a
9poem to read at his inauguration in 1993; her reading of her
10poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around
11the world; and
12    WHEREAS, Since 1981, Maya Angelou has served as Reynolds
13Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in
14Winston-Salem, North Carolina; she continued to appear on
15television and in films including Poetic Justice (1993) and the
16landmark television adaptation of Roots (1977) and she has
17directed numerous dramatic and documentary programs on
18television and her first feature film, Down in the Delta, in
191996; the list of her published works now includes more than 30
20titles; and
21    WHEREAS, In 2000, Maya Angelou was honored with the
22Presidential Medal of the Arts and she received the Ford's
23Theatre Lincoln Medal in 2008; also in 2008, she narrated the



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1award-winning documentary film The Black Candle and published a
2book of guidance for young women, Letter to My Daughter; in
32011, President Barack Obama awarded her the nation's highest
4civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom; therefore,
5be it
8we mourn the passing of Maya Angelou, a celebrated poet,
9memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress,
10historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, and extend our
11sincere condolences to her family, friends, and all who knew
12and loved her; and be it further
13    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
14presented to the family of Maya Angelou as an expression of our
15deepest sympathy.