Happy Birthday Maya Angelou (April 4th 1928)

With Maya Angelou birthday being right around the corner; I decided to pay tribute to a author that has inspired me since I was a child. A lot can be learned from Maya Angelou and her journey though life. She started at the bottom and raised to the top in a time where it was hard for African Americans. Below you will find a quick bio of Maya Angelou’s life and accomplishments.

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Maya Angelou was born in April 4th 1928 and was given the names Marguerite Johnson. Her birth place was the State of Missouri, City of St. Louis. Her birth parents were Bailey (Her father) and Vivian Baxter (Her Mother).

Her older brother; Bailey named her Maya. Throughout her life, Maya Angelou’s career as a writer extends beyond just simple poetry as she successfully penned two biographies, a number of television shows, several plays and successfully appeared on a number of Broadways plays that were critically acclaimed.


I know Why the Caged Birds (Written in 1969)

This piece is by far one of the most famed Maya Angelou’s work. The follow up autobiography (Gather Together in My Name) followed later in 1974. These two pieces tell a story of Maya’s upbringing and the troubles that she and her brother faced all through their childhood. In the 1930’s her parents divorced. Maya and her brother Bailey was sent to live with their grandparents, in Stamps, Arkansas. In 1940, Maya and her brother Bailey relocated to San Francisco California where they went to live with their now remarried mother Vivian.

As it was expected, Maya noticed that her life in San Francisco was very different from the one she had endured in the Deep South. In this new place African Americans had more rights and their treatment was a little more respectful.At the age of 16, Maya gave birth to her son (Guy Johnson).


Life Struggles

After the birth of her son, Maya started job hopping and worked at several places doubling up as a fry cook, night club dancer and a bartender. But after she asked for advice from her mother, Maya joined the Army.During her stint in the army, Maya was able to receive a better education and was able to learn discipline.

Writing and Acting Career

In 1952, Maya Angelou began her writing and acting careers which took off immediately. In 1954 Maya was part of the acting crew that showcased “Porgy and Bess”. The play was so successful that it went on a 22 nation tour sponsored by the State Department. After the end of the tour Maya was off to Broadway where she appeared and performed in a number of plays such as the Cabaret for Freedom that she helped write.

Thanks to her relentless support of civil rights, Christians from the Southern Christian Leadership went ahead and appointed her (Maya Angelou) as the Coordinator of their movement in the Northern side, a position she held until when she moved to the Motherland (Africa) in the early 1960s.

From 1961 to 1962, Maya Angelou took up the position of associate editor on the Arab Observer (English Language Weekly in Cairo Egypt). She wrote for the Ghana Times and served as the assistant administrator of the School of Music and Drama in the University of Ghana.


Her Plays and Books

After having written successful plays, Maya penned her two autobiographies and she published her book I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing that went on to be nominated for the National Book Award. Up to the year 1986, Maya Angelou wrote several poems and several other books.

Some of her famous poetry volumes includes:

  • Just Give Me A Cool Drink Of Water ‘Fore I Die (Written in 1971)
  • Oh I Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (Written in 1975)
  • Shakers, Why Do You Sing (Written in 1983)
  • Now Sheba Sings The Song (Written in 1987)
  • I Shall Not Be Moved (Written in 1990)
  • Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (Written in 1993)
  • The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Written in 1994)
  • A Brave and Startling Truth (1995)
  • A Song Flung Up TO Heaven (2002)

maya angelou, malcolm x, poetry, inspiring poetryAs a play writer, poet, and a writer, Maya Angelou has impacted the literature and drama in the United States and the world at large as her influences can still be felt in many parts of the world today! Alot can be learned from Maya Angelou and her life.




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