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Maya Angelou -- From Innocence to Experience As we review the works of renowned author and poet Maya Angelou the passion power and extraordinary life experiences of one of the greatest writers of our time comes shining through She is best known for a series of autobiographical novels beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings published in 1971 Angelou has been praised for confronting both the racist and sexual pressures on black women and her work combines her perspective as an individual with her involvement in larger social and political movements including civil rights Within this context I will show how Angelous prose and poetry reflect the tribulations that she has encountered in her life Maya Angelou was born April 4 1928 as Marguerite Johnson in St Louis Missouri to Bailey and Vivian Baxter Johnson Her father was a brash vain former doorman and later a Navy dietitian Her mother was a fun loving exceedingly beautiful woman who was trained as a nurse but made her living cutting poker games in gambling parlors Angelou Caged Bird 174 Her parents soon divorced and she was sent rather unceremoniously along with her older brother Bailey to live with her paternal grandmother in rural Stamps Arkansas Maya Angelou describes the scene in the opening lines of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings When I was three and Bailey four we had arrived in the musty little town wearing tags on our wrists which instructedTo Whom It May Concernthat we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr from Long Beach California en route to Stamps Arkansas co Mrs Annie Henderson 3 In 1930 Stamps was a rural town of fewer than twenty-five hundred people Less than forty miles from the Louisiana border it was deep in the heart of the Cotton Belt Meltzer 4 An invisible line divided one section of town from the other Poor backcountry whites lived on one side and even
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