Maya Angelou
She was born under the name Marguerite Johnson, but her brother Baily renamed
her Maya. Her parents, Baily and Vivian Baxter Johnson, got divorced when she
was very young. Maya grew up in a very racist town. There were many problems in
her life, in which she describes in her autobiographical novel "I Know Why the

Caged Bird Sings". At the age of 16, she became pregnant, while experimenting
if her sexual preference was males or females. She had to get numerous jobs to
support herself and her son, Clyde, who was later known as Guy. In 1952, she
married a man named Tosh Angelos, but due to his atheist ideals, which grew to
be unacceptable to Maya’s religion, the marriage soon ended. In order to have
money to support herself and Clyde, she was forced to become a dancer and a bar
girl in a strip joint. After she got enough money, she moved to New York and
sang at various clubs. Maya started her writing career in New York with the

Harlem Literary Guild. She made contracts which led to her recognition as a
producer, director, and performer. In 1960, she married a South African freedom
fighter, Vusumzi Make. They both got jobs as editors of the Arab Observer. The
marriage ended three years later, and Maya moved to Ghana. She felt at home for
the first time of her life. This is when she started her first writings. Maya
was nominated for an Emmy Award for her acting in "Roots" and "Georgia,

Georgia". She also received a Pulitzer Prize Nomination for her poems "Just

Give Me a Cool Drink ‘fore I Die" (1971) and "And Still I Rise" (1976).

Being President Bill Clinton’s favorite writer, he asked her to write and
deliver a poem for his 1993 presidential inauguration. She also wrote a poem for
the "Million Man March". "On the Pulse of Morning" became a best-selling
book on 20 January 1993. Now, Maya is a Reynolds professor of American Studies
at Wake Forrest University in North Carolina. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou wrote "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" to express the
hardships of growing up a black woman in the time of racism and hatred. During
this autobiography of Maya’s life, she tells about how racist people are
against her and her family, along with every other black, and how being a girl
is also hard due to rapes and having to have children. People were also very
religious at this time to the point that if someone did something against the
religion, they would receive a beating. When Maya was three, and Bailey, her
brother, four, they both left Long Beach, California to live with their
father’s mother, Anne Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas. They grew so much
respect for Anne, that they soon called her Momma. They lived with Momma and

Uncle Willie, who is crippled. Momma owned a store in the center of town which
became a big success. All of the workers in town went there for lunch every
afternoon. Momma was very religious, to the point that the kids would get hit
every time they disobey the religion. Uncle Willie was also very strict. He made

Maya and Baily at ages five and six, learn the times tables. Then he would test
them and if they made a mistake, he would push them closer to the heater. The
town that they live in is extremely racist. Every black talked about how dirty
the white men are, they called them "powhitetrash". Almost every day, being
that all blacks hated whites, and vice-versa, a bunch of whites would go to the
store to make fun, abuse, command Momma around the store. "People in Stamps
used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro
couldn’t buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be
satisfied with chocolate" (Angelou 49). "A light shade had been pulled down
between the Black community and all things white, but one could see through it
enough to develop a fear-admiration-contempt for the white ‘things’ –
white folks’ cars and white glistening houses and their children and their
women" (Angelou 49). One time when Maya went to a white dentist, she was told
that he would rather stick his hand in a dog’s mouth than a nigger’s. When

Maya and Baily went to school, the teachers would tease them and be mean to
them, just because of their color. For many years, Maya and Baily thought