Maya Angelou was born under the name Marguerita Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She was raised mostly by her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Her childhood experiences, which included rape at eight years old and a period of muteness, inspired her famous work, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", which was written in 1970. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. In her massive volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.
The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television.
In the 1950s she became a nightclub performer and began careers as a singer, dancer, actor, playwright, poet, novelist, and civil rights activist. When Angelou returned to the United States after a performances in Ghana while acting, she wrote several screenplays and became the first African-American woman to have a feature film adapted from one of her own stories.
In January 1993, she became only the second poet in U.S. History to have the honor of writing and reciting original work at the Presidential Inauguration. She has received many awards and...