I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of the best pieces of modern literature. Published in 1969, her autobiographical work received a nomination for National Book Award. Besides that, Maya Angelou has received the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to her in 2011.
As with other great works of literature, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, received a lot of attention and criticism. To this day it is one of the most discussed books not only in USA, but also around the world.
Her autobiographical work is one of the most banned books since its release, in the chronicles of literature.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the autobiographical work of the writer’s early years. It is a story that demonstrates how strength of character and the love for writing can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother go to live with their grandmother. It ends when Maya becomes a mother when she is only 17. Through the years, through the book we witness her transformation. From a victim of racism with an inferiority complex, she turns into a self-assured, dignified young woman who is a powerful civil rights activist.
Times magazine in 2011 named the book one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English. Since its publication, it is a part of schools and high-schools all over the country.
However, her depiction of rape and physical abuse has lead to the book’s ban in many states. The most common complaint is the vivid scene of the author’s sexual abuse when she was eight.
Florida, Tennessee, Washington and Alabama, are only some of the States that removed the book from most of their libraries. Among the more recent incidents, the book was confronted twice in California. The Newman-Crows Landing School District challenged its presence in the Orestimba High School English Department in 2009.
Then, in 2010, a parental committee restricted the book. The reason? The content of the book was inappropriate for the students.
“I’m always sorry that people ban my books. Many times I’ve been called the most banned. And many times my books are banned by people who never read two sentences. I feel sorry for the young person who never gets to read.”
It is amazing how society is trying to solve major social issues when it turns its back to people who are coming forward with their own stories. Maya Angelou, through her autobiography, teaches us wisdom, passion and courage. Her story is all about coming through hardships and shocking experiences. Even in the hardest of times, willpower can climb mountains. Her story should be free out there, for everyone to read it. It is more needed than ever today.