Maya Angelou: Poet, Author, Actress, and Dancer

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Maya Angelou: Poet, Author, Actress and Dancer

Maya Angelou: Poet, Author, Actress and Dancer
Noel Alford
University of Phoenix

Maya Angelou: Poet, Author, Actress and Dancer
On April 4th, 1928 an extraordinary woman was born in St. Louis Missouri to the late Bailey Johnson and Vivian Baxter Johnson when they seen her gorgeous face she was given a beautiful name Marguerite Ann Johnson. At the time of her birth no one knew how great she would be in our history of poetry, novels, movies, and plays. Sometime in her life she changed her name to Maya Angelou. Maya came from her brother he used to call her my-a-sister; it was his nickname he gave to her. During her years Maya has had rough times especially in her first seventeen years of life. She has been highly honored for her many bodies of work including being awarded with over thirty honorary degrees and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water “Fore I Diiie.” ( Maya has been through trials and tribulations in her life that she has managed to get through with her head held high and a determined persona of herself. Maya is considered a legend in her own time and a powerful role model for several of our inspiring poets including Nikki Giovanni and Gwendolyn Brooks just to name a few. Maya Angelou has written six autobiographies which have all focused on her growing up and her early childhood years. In Maya’s first published book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Maya speaks about her family, parents divorce, her and her brother Bailey living with relatives, and the abuse and rape she endured from her mother’s boyfriend. Maya Angelou has overcome racism, rape, and being a mute and when you look at this spectacular woman and all of her accomplishments she deserve a standing ovation. Maya the Person

Marguerite Johnson was born in St. Louis Missouri to two caring parents, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. When Maya was three and her brother four their parents decided to end their marriage and get a divorce. Mr. Johnson sent his two young children to live with their grandmother Annie Henderson in Stamps, Arkansas they traveled alone to their destination on a train. Ms. Henderson was financially comfortable due to her general store during the Great Depression and World War 2. She sold basic commodities and made wise investments. After living with Ms. Henderson their father returned to Stamps to reclaim his children and return them back to St. Louis to their mother. While living with their mother her live in boyfriend Mr. Freeman sexually abused Maya and raped her. Maya told Bailey what Freeman had done to her and Bailey told the rest of his family. Freeman was jailed and found guilty he was released after one day four days later Freeman was found dead and it had been said that Maya’s uncle’s were the culprits. When Maya found out what had happened to Freeman she went into a depression staying that it was her fault because she had told and that her voice had killed him, Maya became a mute for five years until she met a teacher by the name of Mrs. Bertha Flowers and later became a friend to her. Mrs. Flowers was credited by Maya for helping her to speak again, (I know why the Caged Bird Sings pg. 72) she also introduced Maya into classical literature: William Shakespeare whom Maya met and fell in love with, Allen Edgar Poe, and Douglas Johnson as well as black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer and Jessie Fauset.

At the age of thirteen Maya and Bailey returned to live with their mother in San Francisco, California during World War 2. Maya attended George Washington High School and studied dance and drama on a scholarship and the California Labor School. Before Maya graduated she worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school Maya gave birth to a son who she named Clyde. In Maya’s late teen years (17-19) she went through a series of...