Maya Angelou’s NYC milestones and honors

Many of Maya Angelou’s accomplishmens and milestones happened in New York City. From her first shared apartment on the Upper West Side, to the 2004 purchase of a fixer-up Harlem brownstone, here are a few of Angelou’s defining New York moments:

– In 1958, Maya Angelou moved to New York City, sharing an Upper West Side Apartment with friend Rosa Guy.

– In 1960 a then-31 Angelou performed atthe Apollo Theatre for a week-long stint. Against the manager’s wishes, Angelou closed each night asking the audience to join her in singing “Uhuru,” meaning ‘freedom’ in multiple African Languages.

– Angelou was awarded the Langston Hughes Medal in 1991, for African American heritage writers, through the City College of New York.


– At a 1994 tribute to singer Marian Anderson at Aaron Davis Hall, Angelou opened the program by singing, rather than reading (as was expected), “Coming through the Rye,” the first song of Anderson’s that she’d ever heard.

– On Oct. 29, 1996 Angelou was sworn in as an American Ambassador to UNICEF at the United Nations

– In February 2002, a combination celebration was held in Chelsea to honor Angelou’s 70th birthday and the launch of her Hallmark line, which included greeting cards, pillows, and other collectible items.

– Angelou was a recipient of a Columbia University Honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2003.

In 2004 Angelou purchased a 3,500 -square foot brownstone in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park neighborhood.

In 2010 Angelou announced that the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem would acquire 343 boxes of her personal papers and documents including letters to and from the likes of Malcolm X and Coretta Scott King.

– In 2013 Toni Morrison presented Angelou with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the National Book Awards in New York City.

– Angelou was a 2013 recipient of the Norman Mailer Lifetime Achievement Award at the New York Public Library.

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