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Biographical Information about Maya Angelou

Poet and author Maya Angelou died in her North Carolina home on Wednesday. She was an actress, singer and dancer who later became best known for her poetry and books. Her works dealt with family, powerful women, poverty and segregation with the theme that all of us are important and valuable.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Norman Mailer Center)

BIRTH NAME: Marguerite Johnson. She would take the stage name Maya Angelou as an adult.

AGE: 86. Born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She would spend some of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas. She died May 28, 2014, at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

EARLY CAREER: Angelou studied drama and dance at San Francisco’s Labor School, but dropped out to become the city’s first black female cable car conductor. As a young single mother, she danced at a strip club before touring in productions of “Porgy and Bess.” She worked on civil rights issues with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X and met Nelson Mandela while spending several years in Egypt and Ghana.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Angelou’s book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was released in 1969. She would write six more books about her life, along with more than 30 other works.

POETRY: Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. One of her best-known poems was “Still I Rise.” ”You may write me down in history. With your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

ADVICE FOR LIFE: “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,” from her book “Letter to My Daughter.”

LEGACY: Angelou wrote when her friend Nelson Mandela died: “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.” President Barack Obama used those words to remember Angelou as “one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.”

FINAL TWEET: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” (Posted May 23).


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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