Ignoring Maya Angelou's Past As A Sex Worker Simplifies Her Legacy

The Part Of Maya Angelou's Past You May Not Have Known About

After literary legend Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, she was extolled for her contribution to the world through works like "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," "And Still I Rise" and "Phenomenal Woman." But have writers focusing only on the highs of Angelou's long and complex life "reduced her" to "a greeting card"?

That's the argument of Aya De Leon, a writer and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, who joined HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski to discuss Angelou's past as a sex worker -- and why no one is discussing it in the wake of her death.

Angelou worked as a prostitute and a madam when she was a struggling mother, De Leon said, and to omit that from her obituary is to ignore the transformative parts of Angelou's life that made her special.

"She wrote about [her sex work] openly and really wasn't ashamed of it," De Leon said. "I don't think it was a pleasant time in her life. It was a rough time in her life. But she really modeled holding in authority all the things she experienced in her life and speaking about them as part of what made a rich, powerful and interesting life filled with transformation."

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