Poet, author, playwright, teacher, actor and director Maya Angelou was born
with the name Marguerite Johnson in 1928. Raised mostly by her grandmother
rural Stamps, Arkansas, the writer's childhood experiences, which included
rape at the age of eight and a period of muteness, inspired her famous work,
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1970).
Prior to gaining notoriety for the autobiography that uncovered economic,
racial and sexual oppressions, Angelou lived and worked in San Francisco. It
was not until the late 1950s that she began writing and acting in New York.
Stage performances took her around the world. While in Ghana, she met a
political dissident that later became her husband.
When Angelou returned to the United States, she wrote several screenplays
became the first African-American woman to have a feature film adapted from
one of her own stories. After the publication of "I Know Why the Caged Bird
Sings," many novels and volumes of poetry followed.
In 1981, Angelou became a professor of American studies at Wake Forest
University, where she still teaches today. Among numerous honors, Angelou
invited to compose and deliver her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," at the
inauguration of President Clinton in 1993.
Check out these sites for more about this "Phenomenal Woman."
Maya Angelou, Inaugural Poet
Offering a short biography, this site offers a complete listing
of Angelou's lifetime achievements. Although it reads like a very long
resume, the site can help researchers get the facts straight.
Interview with Mother Jones
Check out this 1995 talk with Maya Angelou. In her own cadence and style,
Angelou discusses her famous presidential poem, social and economic issues facing
the nation, spirituality and more.
Down in the Delta
MovieWeb's summary, review, cast list and still shots of the 1998 Miramax
film that logs three generations of black life.
Maya Angelou Public Charter School
Named after the famed poet for her bravery in overcoming personal hardships,
this Washington D.C. school teaches troubled kids employment skills. The
students, dedicated to turning their own lives around, go to school 11 hours
a day, 12 months a year!