Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou paved the way for many of today’s black poets. She is famous for her poems and series of autobiographies. Angelou has had an interesting life filled with many accomplishments. Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd Ed.) Her parents divorced when she was 3, she then lived with her mother. (Shaw, Taylor) At age 8 her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, raped her. Angelou hid her dirty underwear under the couch, where her mother found it and discovered she had been raped. Mr. Freeman was convicted and sent to jail. When he was released he was beaten to death. (Cuffie, Terrasita) Angelou thought it was her fault that he was killed, so she didn’t speak to anyone except her brother for 6 long years. (Smelstor, Bruce) Angelou and her brother, Bailey, then moved to Stamps, Arkansas to be raised by their grandmother. She was forced to accept the ways of the Deep South. Her grandmother owned a general store and she helped Angelou develop confidence. (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd Ed.) After 8th grade Angelou moved back to California to live with her mother. She was a great student and graduated high school with honors. (Smelstor, Bruce)

Just before high school graduation, Angelou began to worry about her lack of femininity. She didn’t have as many curves as most 16 year-old girls. She worried that she might be a lesbian. To prove herself wrong she seduced her neighbor boy and got pregnant. After she gave birth to a son, Guy Bailey Johnson, she took him and moved to San Francisco. (Ball, Jane) In San Francisco she took many different jobs to support her son. It was difficult being a single mom. During that time she became the first female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd Ed.) In 1951 she married Tosh Angelos, but the marriage soon ended in divorce. She took odd jobs as a prostitute, dancer,...
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