Maya Angelou, born Magarite Johnson, was and author, playwright, professional stage and screen performer, and a singer. She has written five volumes of autobiography, four volumes of poetry as well as written plays, screenplays, and numerous periodical articles. She has overcome a difficult and traumatic childhood to become a prize-winning poet and author of several best-selling autobiographies. “Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time.” (Maya) She is also known as being a poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, and civil rights activist.
“Through her life and work, Maya Angelou has triumphantly created and re-created the self, endowing her life story within symbolic and raising it to mythic proportions.” (Braxton 1) She was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. “While in Stamps, Maya Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination.” (Maya) She also learned the values of a traditional African-American family, community, and culture. When she was a teenager she won a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School for her love of arts. She dropped out to become the first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, not long after graduation. She supported her son by working as a waitress, and a cook; however her love for music, dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage of her life.
In 1954 and 1955, Maya toured Europe with the production of the Opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance, danced on television variety shows, and in 1957, recorded her first album. In 1958, she moved to New York where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, and acted in The Blacks, and wrote Carbaret for Freedom. Angelou spent most of the 1960s living abroad. She moved to Cairo, Egypt, in 1960, and served as the editor of the...
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