List of honors received by Maya Angelou

African American woman in her fifties, wearing a dark coat, standing at a podium reading to a crowd gathered behind her.
Maya Angelou reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors include a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and five Grammys for her spoken albums. Beginning in 1982, Angelou held the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

She served on two presidential committees – for Gerald Ford in 1975 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 2000, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama.

More than thirty health care and medical facilities have been named after Angelou.[1] She was awarded more than fifty honorary degrees.[2] Rollins College, a liberal arts institution in Winter Park, Florida, honored Angelou in several ways, including numerous invitations to speak to its student body, an honorary degree in 1985, the institution of the Maya Angelou Resource Library in 1989, and a stone dedicated to her on the campus's Walk of Fame in 1994.[3]


Year Honor Notes Ref.
1970 Chubb Fellowship Given by Yale University, provides the recipient with an opportunity to make a public address open to the Yale and New Haven communities, as well as a meal, reception, or seminar with groups of students and faculty [4]
1971 Coretta Scott King Award Given to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young people [5]
1972 Pulitzer Prize nomination For Angelou's first book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie [6]
1973 Tony Award nomination For her role in the Broadway play Look Away [7]
1975–76 Member, American Revolution Bicentennial Council Appointed by President Gerald Ford; The council developed and planned activities and events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution. [7]
1975 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Competitive residency program at the foundation's property in Bellagio, Italy, where scholars and artists from all over the world work on projects of their own choosing for a period of four weeks [8]
1976 Ladies' Home Journal "Woman of the Year in Communication" Award Yearly award given by the magazine [7]
1977 Member, Presidential Commission for International Women's Year Appointed by President Jimmy Carter, the commission was established to make recommendations to end barriers to women's equality in the U.S. [9]
1981 Reynold's Professor of American Studies, Wake Forest University Lifetime appointment [10]
1983 Ladies' Home Journal "Top 100 Most Influential Women" Yearly award given by the magazine [7]
1983 Matrix Award Given by the New York Association for Women in Communications to women who excel in the field of communication [11]
1984 Member, North Carolina Arts Council Committee that gives recommendations to the state's art counsel, especially its policies regarding the arts [10]
1986 Fulbright Program 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecturer Recognition by the U.S. Department of State for African Americans who have contributed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries ..." [12]
1987 North Carolina Award in Literature Highest honor bestowed by North Carolina; recognizes residents for contributions in scholarship, research, the fine arts, and public leadership [13]
1990 Golden Plate Award, Academy of Achievement Given for accomplishments in the sciences, business, industry, arts, literature, sports, entertainment, and public service [14]
1990 Candace Award, National Coalition of 100 Black Women Given to African-American women for leadership and achievement [15]
1991 Langston Hughes Medal Awarded to African-American writers who explore their cultural heritage [16]
1992 Horatio Alger Award Yearly award to those "who have overcome adversity and made significant contributions in their fields" [17]
1992 Distinguished Woman of North Carolina award Given by the North Carolina Council for Women to women who make major contributions in the arts, business, education, government, recreation, or volunteerism [18]
1992 Crystal Award Honors women who have helped expand the role of women in entertainment [19]
1992 St. Louis Walk of Fame Honors individuals from the St. Louis, Missouri area who made major national contributions to our cultural heritage. [20]
1993 Inaugural Poet Named for reading her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration [21]
1993 Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Part of the first group of those native to Arkansas honored as role models for young people [22]
1993 Grammy, "Best Spoken Word Album" First Grammy, for inaugural poem "On the Pulse of Morning" [23]
1994 Rollins College Walk of Fame Stone dedicated on campus walkway made up of rocks and bricks from the homes of over 600 historical figures [24]
1994 Spingarn Medal Given by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American [26]
1994 Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award Presented by Wellesley College for her soaring inspiration to live life with intensity, integrity and intelligence. [26]
1995 Frank G. Wells American Teachers Award Recognizes those outside the teaching profession who teach [27]
1995 Grammy, "Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album" For Angelou's performance of her poem Phenomenal Woman [28]
1996 American Ambassador Given by UNICEF to assist with their fundraising efforts [29]
1997 NAACP Image Award Honors African Americans' accomplishments in film, television, music, and literature, and for Angelou's work in nonfiction [30]
1997 Homecoming Award Given every two years by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers to authors from the U.S. South and Southwest [31]
1998 Alston-Jones International Civil & Human Rights Award Bestowed by the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, honoring individuals who have contributed to the Civil Rights Movement[32] [18]
1998 National Women's Hall of Fame Inducted for making contributions to society and for the freedom and progress of women [33]
1999 Christopher Award The Christophers' annual media award, given to Angelou for her directorial debut (Down in the Delta) [34]
1999 Shelia Award Given by the Tubman African American Museum annually to "extraordinary black women of achievement" [35]
2000 National Medal of Arts Awarded by President Bill Clinton; Selected by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and awarded by the President of the United States to Americans who have contributed to the arts and culture [36]
2002 Lifetime Achievement Award Given as part of the Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards (EMMAs) presented at the annual Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Wales [37]
2002 Grammy, "Best Spoken Word Album" For the audio book of A Song Flung Up to Heaven, Angelou's sixth autobiography [38]
2003 Museum of Tolerance "Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves" multimedia exhibit Featured with Billy Crystal, Joe Torre, and Carlos Santana [39]
2004 Charles Evans Hughes Award Presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice for civic and humanitarian contributions [40]
2005 Heart's Day Honoree Presented during Howard University English Department's annual celebration and conference [41]
2006 Mother Teresa Award Presented by the St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after being nominated by the public at large [42]
2007 Martha Parker Legacy Award Given by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance studio in Denver; attendees of the ceremony were served dishes from Angelou's cookbook Hallelujah! The Welcome Table [43]
2008 Voice of Peace award First recipient of award presented by the Hope for Peace and Justice Center in Dallas; also in honor of Angelou's 80th birthday [44]
2008 Gracie Award Honors accomplishments in the media; for Angelou's radio show on XM Radio [45]
2008 Marian Anderson Award Honors "artists whose leadership benefits humanity" [46]
2008 Lincoln Medal Presented by Ford's Theatre to those who exemplify the legacy and character embodied by President Abraham Lincoln [47]
2009 Literary Award Given by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, recognizing excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction written by African Americans [48]
2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom The highest American civilian honor; awarded by President Barack Obama [49]
2012 Black Cultural Society Award Given by Elon University in North Carolina, for humanitarian contributions for the promotion of world cultures [50]
2013 Literarian Award Given by the National Book Foundation, to those whose work has "enhanced the literary world during a lifetime of service" [51]
2013 Norman Mailer Prize (Lifetime Achievement) Given by the Norman Mailer Center and The Norman Mailer Writers Colony to celebrate writers and their works [52]
2014 Conference of Minority Transportation Officials Lifetime Achievement award Given to celebrate the contributions of women leaders who work in transportation, and to recognize Angelou for being the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. [53]
2015 Stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service The stamp features a quote, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song", which was often cited by Angleou during interviews, but was written by Joan Walsh Anglund in 1967. President Obama wrongly attributed the sentence to Angelou during the presentation of the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. [54]
2017 Residence hall named in Angelou's honor at Wake Forest University. The first building at Wake Forest named for an African-American and the second named for a female faculty member. [55]
2018 Google Doodle In honor of what would have been Angelou's 90th birthday (April 4) [56]

Honorary degreesEdit

President Barack Obama presenting Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011


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  4. ^ "Past Fellows A—Z". Archived 2014-12-02 at the Wayback Machine Yale University. The Chubb Fellowship at Timothy Dwight College. Retrieved 2012-12-27
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  28. ^ "Spoken-Word Audio Grammys Given". (1996-04-01). Publishers Weekly, 243 (14), p. 18
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  30. ^ Gray, Timothy M. (1998-03-03). "NAACP Image nods to 'Soul Food,' 'Touched'". Variety. Retrieved 2012-12-29
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  32. ^ Hairston, Jr., Otis L. (2007). Picturing Greensboro: Four Decades of African American Community. Charleston, North Carolina: The History Press, p. 93. ISBN 978-1-59629-284-0
  33. ^ "Women's hall to enshrine Albright and Angelou". (1998-12-19). Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-12-29
  34. ^ "Maya Angelou, Steven Spielberg honored by the Christophers". (1999-02-26). Catholic World News. Retrieved 2012-12-30
  35. ^ "The Shelia Awards". Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Tubman African American Museum. Retrieved 2012-12-30
  36. ^ ""Sculptor, painter among National Medal of Arts winners". Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine (2000-12-20). CNN. Retrieved 2007-10-12
  37. ^ "Hay closes chapter for Angelou". (2002-06-05). BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-11
  38. ^ "The Winners". (2003-02-24). The Vindicator. Retrieved 2013-01-05
  39. ^ Dutka, Elaine (2003-02-07). "Four people you know, the histories you don't". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-12-11
  40. ^ "Dr. Maya Angelou and John E. Pepper receive NCCJ'S highest award!" (September 2004). NCCJ News, 8, p. 1. Retrieved 2013-01-05
  41. ^ "Maya Angelou is Honored by the Department of English on Heart's Day". Flagship: College of Arts and Sciences Newsletter (Howard University). Retrieved 2006-09-25
  42. ^ "2006 Mother Teresa Awards". (2007-03-16). St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art (Albuquerque, New Mexico), 2 (1), p. 2. Retrieved 2013-01-05
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  47. ^ "Ford's Theatre Lincoln Medal". Ford's Theatre. Retrieved 2013-01-18
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Works citedEdit

  • Gillespie, Marcia Ann, Rosa Johnson Butler, and Richard A. Long. (2008). Maya Angelou: A Glorious Celebration. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-385-51108-7
  • Lupton, Mary Jane (1998). Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30325-8

External linksEdit