Margaret Fitzgerald
Category: 2022 College Winner

Margaret Fitzgerald

Everyday, I am proud to call Saint Louis, Missouri my home. It is a city full of people who have educated me on culture and allowed me to learn in order to grow. Because my city is so diverse, I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by every walk of life imaginable. My high school continued to widen my view of my community by insisting we learn from a palette of both influential, but diverse authors.

Maya Angelou also called Saint Louis, Missouri her home. I vividly remember being a sophomore and reading her poetry for the first time. I spent hours doing a poetry dissection to find how intriguing, yet simple the message she conveyed truly was.

Maya Angelou was one of the main inspirations behind my desire to write. The way she wrote with such honesty was what I knew I wanted to do. I have always viewed her as a role model and a source of motivation when it came to writing the truth. She broke barriers as a woman of color, destroying the idiocies that tried to bury her passion. As a young woman pursuing writing as a career, she has shown me how to leap without looking when it comes to writing what is truth.

In 1969, Angelou published “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, her first autobiography. This brought her worldwide attention. Aside from being an accomplished author, she used her platform to be a major movement in political activism. She had close ties with Malcom X, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She aided in organizing marches, creating docu-series, and campaigning for elections of major political officials. Aside from the inspiration to write, she has also pushed me to be more involved with social justice reform. Living somewhere such as Saint Louis has opened my eyes to the many injustices that exist in my community. I want to write about what I see needs change in hopes to inspire others to follow, as Angelou did for me.

In her poem “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, Angelou’s message is really quite simple. She speaks of freedom and she speaks of persistence. The definition of Angelou’s work is “persistence”. She works to persist in widening the door for all people and encourages others to do the same. I can only hope that through my writing, I am half the inspiration that she continues to be. She has changed my perspective on what it means to be a writer. It is not something you always, but it something you wake up and choose to do daily; because it is important, and because someone has to spread the truth.