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Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri and given the name Marguerite Johnson. She was raised by her paternal grandmother until she was sent to live with her mother in San Francisco when she was twelve. Perhaps the defining moment in her life was being raped at the age of seven by her mother's boyfriend. As a result she was mute for five years, receding into the world of literature. During her late teen years she worked as a cocktail waitress, a prostitute, a madam, and a dancer. She was also the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco.

Angelou has been both a successful actress and writer. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in LOOK AWAY and an Emmy Award for her performance in ROOTS. She became the first black woman to have her screenplay produced as a film with GEORGIA, GEORGIA. She has written several volumes of her autobiography beginning with her most famous work, I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her book, JUST GIVE ME A COOL DRINK OF WATER 'FORE I DIIIE was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Angelou is currently the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

BIOGRAPHY

1928 She was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

1931 She was sent to Stamps, Arkansas to live with her paternal grandmother.

1940 She moved to San Francisco to live with her mother.

1945 She gave birth to her son, Guy Johnson.

1952 She married her first husband, Tosh Angelos.

1954 She and Tosh Angelos divorced, and she became a professional dancer.

1960 She became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

1961 She married Vusumzi Make and moved with him to Africa.

1966 She moved back to California and wrote BLACK, BLUES, BLACK, a television series

1970 I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS was published.

1971 JUST GIVE ME A COOL DRINK OF WATER 'FORE I DIIIE was published and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.; Her screenplay, GEORGIA, GEORGIA, was produced as a film.

1973 She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in LOOK AWAY.; She married Paul De Feu.

1974 GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME was published.; She wrote and directed the film, ALL DAY LONG.

1975 OH PRAY MY WINGS ARE GONNA FIT ME WELL was published.; She received the Ladies Home Journal Woman of the Year Award in communications.

1976 SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS was published.

1977 She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance in ROOTS.

1978 AND STILL I RISE was published.

1981 She became the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.; THE HEART OF A WOMAN was published.

1983 SHAKER, WHY DON'T YOU SING? was published.

1986 ALL GOD'S CHILDREN NEED TRAVELING SHOES was published.

1987 NOW SHEBA SINGS THE SONG was published.

1990 I SHALL NOT BE MOVED was published.

1993 She was the featured poet at Bill Clinton's Presidential inauguration.; WOULDN'T TAKE NOTHING FOR MY JOURNEY NOW was published.

1994 MY PAINTED HOUSE, MY FRIENDLY CHICKEN AND ME, and THE COMPLETE COLLECTED POEMS OF MAYA ANGELOU were published.

1998 LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME was published.