11 Things you ought to know about Maya Angelou

11 Things you ought to know about Maya Angelou

           (April 4th 1928 – May 28th 2014)

  • She was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis Missouri as the second child of her parents. Her older brother nicknamed her “Maya”. Her parent’s marriage ended when she was 3 and her father sent her and her brother to live with his mother in Stamps Arkansas.
  • Five years later she returned to St. Louis to live with her mother. She was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend and stopped talking for 5 years. This is as a result of her mother’s boyfriend being murdered four days after he was released from jail, where he was for only 1 day. She thought her voice killed him.
  • She was sent back to live with her grandmother shortly after the murder. At this period of her life she discovered her love for books and literature. At 14 she moved back in with her grandmother. She has her first and only child (Guy Johnson) at the age of 17, just 3 weeks after completing school.

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  • She married an aspiring Greek musician (Tosh Angelos) in 1951 against her mother’s wishes. She started taking dance lessons and formed a dance duo with Alvin Ailey. She was advised to change her stage name to Maya Angelou by her managers after her marriage ended in 1954.
  • After touring Europe 1954-1955, she recorded her first Album Miss Calypso in 1957. In 1959 she moved to New York and joined the Harlem Writers Guild, where she was published for the first time. She met Martin Luther King in 1960 and became active in the civil rights movement.
  • She and her son moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1961 and here she worked as an associate editor for the Arab Observer after she met South African freedom fighter. She lived with him in Cairo and after they broke up in 1962 she moved to Accra, Ghana.

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  • She lived in Ghana until 1965 and worked as an administrator at the university of Ghana, worked and performed in the national theatre, radio personality for Radio Ghana, freelance writer for the Ghanaian times and a feature editor for the African Review.
  • She met Malcolm X in Ghana and they became good friends. She moved back to the US in 1965 and helped Malcolm X build a new civil rights organization after he left the Nation of Islam, shortly before he was killed. She returned to New York in 1967.
  • She was asked by Martin Luther king to organize a march in 1968. He was killed on her birthday (4th of April) on that same year. She published the first of her 7 autobiographies in 1969. This gave her international recognition.
  • Throughout the 1970s she received a lot of honorary degrees, appeared in the 1977 Roots television show, met Oprah Winfrey and became her mentor. She accepted a lifetimes Reynolds Professorship of American studies at Wake Forrest University and became a full time professor at the University. This all happened despite the fact that she had no bachelor’s degree.
  • She recited a poem at the inauguration of president Bill Clinton. She died on the morning of the 28th of May while working on another book on her experiences with world leaders.
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4 thoughts on “11 Things you ought to know about Maya Angelou

  1. Lots of facts I did not know there!

  2. Im from Ghana I’ve really learnt alot from reading your post

    1. Thank you!! I love Ghana, please subscribe because we will be posting more on Ghanaian culture and history

  3. Els

    Such an inspiring woman!

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