Dr. Maya Angelou

In 1924, Maya Angelou was born with the name Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a difficult childhood. Her parents split up when she was very young, and she and her older brother, Bailey, were sent to live with their father’s mother, Anne Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas. The lifestyle and environment in Arkansas were very different than that of St. Louis. Angelou experience harsh racism. Even experiencing that when Maya went back to St. Louis to visit her mother, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. For revenge, her uncles seek and kill the boyfriend after finding out about the incident. The traumatic experience causes Maya to not talk for years and is the reason behind her famous poem, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Maya doesn’t let this trauma stop her as she moves on with her life. During World War II, Angelou moved to San Francisco, California, where she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School. Also during this time, Angelou became the first black female cable car conductor—a job she held only briefly, in San Francisco. In 1944, a 16-year-old Angelou gave birth to a son, Guy (a short-lived high school relationship had led to the pregnancy), thereafter working a number of jobs to support herself and her child. In the mid-1950s, Angelou’s career as a performer began to take off. A member of the Harlem Writers Guild and a civil rights activist, Angelou organized and starred in the musical revue Cabaret for Freedom as a benefit for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also serving as the SCLC’s northern coordinator. Angelou continues to have a very successful life with her later works. She developed close relationships with notable leaders like Martin and Coretta Scott King, Opera Winfrey, and more. She received the highest civilian honor, “Presidental Medal of Freedom” from President Barack Obama in 2011. She will forever be remembered as a strong woman you expressed herself through all works of art.

If you are interested in learning more about Maya Angelou, check out the book below and her other works.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  – Dr. Maya Angelou

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