Marguerite Ann Johnson was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. After her parents divorced, she and her older brother Bailey lived with their grandmother in the racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas. In this town and during this time, African Americans depended on one another for social, economic and religious sustenance. Marguerite and Bailey formed a strong bond; it was during their youth that he gave her the nickname Maya. At the age of seven, Maya was molested and raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. She only confided in one person – her brother – to tell this horrific experience. Shortly after speaking of this incident, the attacker was dead. Maya felt personally responsible for this tragedy and did not speak for five years. This wasn’t an oath of silence nor did she lose her voice, she just refused to have verbal dialogue. When she spoke again, Maya and her brother were reunited with their mother in San Francisco, California. It was there that she won a scholarship to study dance and drama. However at the age of 16, Maya dropped out of school and became San Francisco’s first African American woman cable car operator. When she did return to school, she had a new found political view beginning to take shape but during her senior year, Maya became pregnant and gave birth to her son named Guy in 1945 and supported him working as a waitress and a cook. During post World War II, Maya had a series of relationships, occupations and residences in different cities while trying to raise her son and find her place in this world. She was hoping that “my charming prince was going to appear out of the blue” (Angelou, Gather Together In My Name, 1974). Before while, Maya found herself on the wrong side of the law was threatened with losing her son for illegal activities. In an effort to get her life together, Maya leaves her son with a caretaker only to later return and find them gone from San Francisco. With the help of her...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document