The 85-year-old literary legend, who wrote 1969's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," said her mother gave her the courage to pursue her dreams.
She actually said, "Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt and my mother," - she said, "You're in that category." I was 22 years old! She said she was too mean to lie. [laughs] And she was very intelligent. So I thought, suppose she's right? Suppose I do have something? Suppose I am going to be somebody?
"I became unafraid because of Vivian Baxter," Angelou continued.
I mean, if you were the President of the United States or the Queen of England - you couldn't have a person who would be more protective than my mother was for me. Which meant really that I could dare to do all sorts of things.
When Angelou became pregnant at 16, she said her mother "liberated" her from the feeling that she shamed the family.
Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from Barack Obama in 2011.
You can read more of Angelou's interview with The Huffington Post here.
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