6. MAYA ANGELOU
Represents: Women’s and civil rights in America, Creative and experiential use of weed in America
Here is the list’s first entry who openly praised the use of pot as an intoxicant—African-American poet and activist Maya Angelou. Angelou sadly passed away in 2014 at age 86, still at the height of her mental acuity and maintaining her artistic and creative prowess.
In 1969, Angelou released her breakthrough book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a profound recollection of her tumultuous life up until age 17. Indeed Angelou’s life almost encapsulates the black experience in America within one person; including her involvement with Martin Luther King and working towards establishing civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in America.
As noted by Northwest Leaf, in her inimitable style, in the 1974 sequel to Caged Bird, entitled Gather Together in My Name, Angelou wrote, “Smoking grass eased the strain for me. I made a connection at a restaurant nearby. People called it Mary Jane, hash, grass, gauge, weed, pot, and I had absolutely no fear of using it.”
“From a natural stiffness I melted into a grinning tolerance,” she continued. “Walking on the streets became high adventure, eating my mother’s huge dinners an opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was side-cracking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me.”
Angelou’s attitude towards pot reflected the times she lived in, and now the struggle to liberate its legal status was underway…