James Baldwin writes:
"This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women... I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw ever day, have I found myself so moved... Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."