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ngelou Maya 1928- American author poet and entertainer best known for her portrayals of strong African American women Born Marguerite Johnson in St Louis Missouri Angelou spent most of her childhood living with her grandmother in rural Arkansas She moved to her mothers home in San Francisco after graduating with honors from Lafayette County Training School in 1940 At the age of 16 she graduated from high school gave birth to her son Guy and began a series of jobs including cooking and waitressing In the 1950s she became a nightclub performer and began careers as a singer dancer actor playwright magazine editor civil rights activist poet and novelistMuch of Angelous writing stresses the themes of courage perseverance self-acceptance and realization of ones full potential In her works she frequently presents strong female role models Her most prominent writing includes her series of autobiographical books which starts with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1970 and in which she describes African American life in witty intelligent language rich in rhythm and texture The series continues with Gather Together in My Name 1974 Singin and Swingin and Gettin Merry Like Christmas 1976 The Heart of a Woman 1981 and All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes 1986 Angelous books of poetry include Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water fore I Diiie 1971 Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well 1975 And Still I Rise 1978 Shaker Why Dont You Sing 1983 Now Sheba Sings the Song 1987 I Shall Not Be Moved 1990 and Phenomenal Woman 1994 The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou appeared in 1994 Wouldnt Take Nothing for My Journey Now a book of inspirational meditations on life was published in 1993 She read her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in January 1993 Angelou has received many awards and honorary degrees including Grammy Awards 1994 and 1996 for her recordings
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