Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Annie Johnson to Bailey and Vivian Baxter Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents divorced when she was only three years old. Maya Angelou and her younger brother Bailey were sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. It was there at a she experienced the racial discrimination that was the legally enforced way of life in the American South. However, Maya Angelou developed a deep religious faith and an old-fashioned courtesy of traditional African American life. She credits her grandmother and her extended family with instilling in her the values that helped her survive throughout her life and in her career.
Maya Angelou went to visit her mother in Chicago at the age of seven. While visiting, she was sexually molested by her mother's boyfriend. Maya Angelou was to ashamed to tell any of the adults in her life, so she confided in her brother. Later she heard the news that an uncle had killed her mother’s boyfriend. Maya Angelou believed her words had killed the man and due to this, she fell silent and did not speak for five years.
1941 Maya and her brother returned to live with her mother in San Francisco where she attended George Washington High School and studied dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School
1942 Teacher Bertha Flowers helped Maya to talk again and encouraged her interest in literature
1942 She dropped out of school in her teens to become San Francisco's first African American female cable car conductor
1943 Maya returned to high school, but became pregnant and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her son, Guy. She left home to bring up her son as a single mother working as a waitress and cook
1952 She married a Greek sailor named Tosh Angelos but the marriage quickly failed
1952 She began her career as a nightclub singer and during this time took the name Maya Angelou
1958 Developed her skills in writing poetry and moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild
1959 Became involved with Civil Rights Activists
1959 At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1960 She met the South African civil rights activist Vusumzi Make and in 1960, the couple and Guy moved, to Cairo, Egypt. In Cairo, Maya Angelou worked as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. She later moved to Ghana
1964 Returned to America hoping to help Malcolm X build his new Organization of African American Unity
1968 Malcolm X is assassinated and Maya began working on her Autobiographical book 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings‘
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies. I say, It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me (Lines 1-13).
Dr. Maya Angelou has been a remarkable Renaissance woman. She is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. Dr. Maya Angelou still continues to travel the world as a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She is best known for spreading her legendary wisdom.