Maya Angelou is well known for her unique autobiographical writing style. She was also a civil rights leader who fought for social and racial justice. Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman to run for a nomination to become president of the United States, also known as the first woman of color in Congress. The similarities between Maya Angelou and Shirley Chisholm are they are both famous for standing up and fighting for their rights as Black women.  

While Maya Angelou and Shirley Chisholm were both politically active, there are several differences between them. Maya Angelou became one of the most influential voices in our time. Her flexibility shows how much a woman can do. She started with odd jobs during her young adult life and became an American poet, memoirist, civil rights activist later on in her life. She published autobiographies that explore types of oppresion, discrimination, racism and love. Before any of that happens, she was assaulted and lived her childhood years in silence. She was inspired by her grandmother saying “when you learn, teach. When you get, give.” This philosophy has influenced many people including Oprah. The dawn of the presidential election, Maya Angelou took the stage. She performed a poem in an inauguration which was the first time in more than 30 years that a poem performed during an inauguration. Her poetry influences new generations. Shirley Chisholm is known for making history through her years. In 1968, she became the first African American woman in congress. She was a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. The “Fighting Shirley” introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation. It won the racial and gender equality, plight of the poor, and ending the Vietnam war. In 1972, she became the first African American woman from a major political party to run for presidency. She experienced discrimination and sexism during her quest for the Democratic party Presidential election. In 1977, she became the first Black woman to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee.

Maya Angelou influenced a lot of writers, especially because of her autobiographical book “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” Shirley Chisholm influenced politicians–knowing that she was the first African American woman candidate for political nominations. Her influence went through the generations.Today, a Black Vice President, Kamala Harris and many more Black people gained their place in politics. They weren’t hesitant to speak their minds, they passionately defended the rights of the women as well as for equality. 

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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