Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri and she was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. With over 50 honorary doctorate degrees, Dr. Maya Angelou became a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.
She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and she was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Dr. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17.
Maya Angelou became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, nightclub dancer and performer, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. Dr. Angelou was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000. President Barack Obama presented her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor in 2010.
Maya Angelou died on May 28, 2014.