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Maya Angelou: Memoirist, Poet and Much More

500x500-maya-angelouIn 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother’s boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor.

It was the first autobiography by an African-American woman to achieve a wide readership, its searing frankness shattered taboos and had it remained Angelou’s lone achievement, the book would have been enough to earn her a place in literary history. Instead, she was a Renaissance woman who wrote 30 books – including additional memoirs, essays and poetry – and acted on Broadway, danced with Alvin Ailey, became a cabaret and calypso singer and in 2011 received AARP’s highest honor, the Andrus Award. 

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Here are some facts about Angelou and her remarkable life and achievements.











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Photo: Jeff Daly/Invision/AP


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