Maya Angelou was born to father Bailey Johnson, a doorman and navy dietitian and mother Vivian Johnson, a nurse and a card dealer. When she was four, her parents separated and kids stayed with mother. At the age of eight, her mother’s boyfriend sexually abused and raped her (for which he was jailed only for a day, but later was murdered). This incident muted her for about 5 years. It was during this period when Maya Angelou found her deep interest in books, literature and her ability to listen and observe the world around her.
During World War II, when Maya Angelou was 14, she attended the California Labor School in Oakland, California. This is where she was introduced to major literature works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, as well as black female artists like Anne Spencer and Frances Harper. She also worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco, before graduating from the School.
In 1951, Maya Angelou got married and started taking modern dance classes. She teamed with choreographers and started performing throughout San Francisco; but could not get recognition. In 1954, she started dancing professionally in clubs. This is when she sang and performed on Calypso Music at a club and gained her name from "Marguerite Johnson" to “Maya Angelou”. Later she moved to New York to bring back her focus on writing and joined ‘Harlem Writers Guild’, where she met many African-American writers.
During this time, some of her major works published were – ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ in 1969, ‘The Heart of a Woman’ in 1981 and ‘Mom & Me & Mom’ in 2013.
At the End
In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration ceremony, making her the first poet to do so since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.
On May 28, 2014, Maya Angelou was found dead at her house, following a long course of ill health. At the time of her death, she was working on an autobiography, mentioning her experiences with national and world leaders. Artists, entertainers and world leaders, including Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama paid their tributes to Angelou.