One of America’s most beloved writers and poets, Maya Angelou made many other contributions too. Fun Facts
- Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928. When she was three (and her brother, four), her parents’ marriage ended. Her father sent the two children alone on a train to their grandmother’s house in Arkansas.
- Four years later, she went back to live with her mother. There she was sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Maya told her brother what had happened and he told the family. The boyfriend was tried in court but set free. He was murdered a few days later, probably by Maya’s uncles.
- For four years, Maya didn’t speak. She was sent back to her grandmother’s home and there she met Mrs. Flowers, a teacher and family friend who introduced Maya to literature and poetry and encouraged her to speak again.
- When she was fourteen, Maya went to live with her mother in California. At age 16, she became the first woman trolley driver. When she was 17, she had a baby boy.
- Maya Angelou was a dancer, a singer, fry cook, trolley driver, and even a mechanic. She coordinated leadership conferences and became a journalist in Egypt and Ghana. She wrote, directed, and acted in plays and movies. She was also a college professor.
- Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about her childhood. When it was published, people loved it and were also shocked by the violence and racism she describes in it.
- Maya Angelou wrote many other books and worked with civil rights leaders. Her stories helped others understand and appreciate black culture.
Watch a video about Maya Angelou.