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Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St Louis Missouri on April 4 1928 She spent her childhood in California Arkansas and St Louis and lived with her paternal grandmother Annie Henderson for most of her childhood years At age 8 she was raped by her mothers boyfriend in StLouis this led to years of muteness for Maya which she finally overcame through help from a caring neighbor and a great love for literature At age 16 Maya became the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco in later years she became the first black woman screenwriter and director in Hollywood In the 60s she was a friend to both Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X she served in the SCLC with Dr King and worked for years for the civil rights movement Also in the 1960s she worked and travelled in Africa as a journalist and teacher and helping with several African independence movements In 1970 she published her first book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to great acclaim and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry the following year Angelou has had a long and distinguished career and is a poet writer civil-rights activist and historian among other things She was also an accomplished actress dancer and singer having performed in a touring production of Porgy and Bess Jean Genets play The Blacks and the acclaimed television series Roots Angelou is probably best known for her autobiographical works which include I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and All Gods Children Need Travelling Shoes and fill a total of five best-selling volumes In 1993 Angelou read her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the inauguration of President Clinton this was one of the high points of her career and again brought her into the public spotlight Currently she is a professor of American History at Wake Forest University North Carolina and makes regular lecture and speaking tours
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