7 pages
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Maya Angelou

April 4, 2018
Running head: MAYA ANGELOU 1
Maya Angelou
Kala Penn
Maya Angelou born Marguerite Johnson on April 4th 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri
was a an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer,
director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. At the advance age of 86 year she died
on May 28th 2014 in North Carolina of heart problems.
Leaving behind her legacy and a body of important artistic work that
influenced several generations. She was praised by people who knew her personally as a
good hearted soul and a woman that pushed for education, equality and justice. Before
becoming an influential iconic poet, writer and civil rights activist who collaborated with
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement she lived and
undergone hardships, but had not let it destroy her, she prevailed. Angelou’s most famous
work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), covers her childhood (Poetry Foundation,
2018). At the tender age of 3 years old her parents divorced, Bailey Johnson and Vivian
Baxter Johnson who weren’t the best parents in the world, sent her and her brother to
Arkansas to live with their Grandmother Annie Henderson. Her grandma, who owned a
general store groomed and help her develop self-pride and confidence for 4 years. While
living in Arkansas she experienced firsthand racial discrimination and prejudice. At the age
of seven years old moving back with her mother in Missouri, she suffered at the hands of
her mother’s boyfriend who sexual molested her. Because of her close relationship with her
brother she confided in him, who then told the rest of the family. The man was found guilty
and sentenced for a day in prison. Days after his release she overheard the news that he
was killed probably by her uncles, she believed that she had caused the man's death by
speaking his name, she became mute for almost five years only talking to her brother. As
she stated, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name and
then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone" (YouTube,
2010). She returned back to Arkansas in her grandmother’s care and attended public
schools (Notablebiographies.com, 2018). During this period of silence when Angelou
developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to
listen and observe the world around her. From the attention and help of a concern lady by

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