The well-known writer, Maya Angelou’s most famous work being her own autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) grants readers a chance to explore her early life and the many things that she had to go through including being raped as a child by her mother’s boyfriend and her rise to becoming a performer that would later lead her to becoming a writer, poet, director. Her most famous poem Phenomenal Women shows her commitment to the ideals of Feminism. On top of her many accomplishments in the performing arts, Angelou is also an accomplished polyglot that had allowed her to expand her horizons during a tour to Europe. On the day of her passing she was honored by first lady Michelle Obama and many others.
Paul Robeson April 9, 1898 to January 23, 1976
A singer and actor during the pivotal hundred years of social development, Paul Robeson is well known for his abilities in these artistic formats but did not limit himself to be a showman with no substance. He used his platform to speak out against what he saw as injustices during his lifetime. This includes speaking out against the Spanish Civil War, fascism, and of course social injustices. During his life he took a stand against the injustices against people of African descent within the United States, something that would often cost him dearly in terms of being able to make a living as a performer, but this did not silence his voice as a social figure or activist. Robeson spent his whole professional life fighting against injustices and received many awards posthumously for both his activism and acting.
Michael Franti April 21, 1966 to Present
Michael Franti is a singer, songwriter, poet, and founder of many bands of mixed genres that all focus on political issues and the plight of those affected by greed and oppression. His current band The Spearhead has focused on the conflicts in the Middle East with music videos showing actual footage of fighting. Franti is seen as the best example of a modern protest artist using many different genres to expand his message to different audiences. His most famous album Yell Fire had reached top charts with its focus on the armed conflicts in the world and a call for peace.