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Maya Angelou was an African-American who had an extensive career as a poet, essayist, memoirist, singer, actress, playwright, educator, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, for which she is most famous for. She was also a published author of three collections of essays and several books of poetry as well as scripts for plays, movies, and television shows.
See the fact file below for more information on the Maya Angelou or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Maya Angelou worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri.
- She was the second child of Bailey Johnson and Vivian Baxter Johnson.
- She has an older brother named Bailey Johnson Jr.
- Her brother Bailey Jr. gave her the nickname of Maya from the term “My” or “Mya Sister.”
- Her parents separated when she was three years old.
- Following her parents’ separation, Maya’s childhood was mostly spent in Stamps, Arkansas – the home of her paternal grandmother.
- Before she turned eight, she was returned to her mother’s care in St. Louis, where he was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend.
- Maya told of the rape to her brother who told the rest of the family.
- Her mother’s boyfriend was put in jail for one day.
- He was murdered shortly after his release, leaving Maya traumatized and mute for several years.
- She and her brother was sent back to her grandmother.
- It was during this time when Maya met Mrs. Bertha Flowers, the teacher who Maya credits for helping her regain her voice.
- In 1940, Maya and her mother moved to San Francisco, California.
- In San Francisco, Maya took up various jobs, such as being a cocktail waitress, a cook, a dancer, and a prostitute.
- At 16 years old, Maya was the first female African-American cable car conductor in San Francisco.
- Her first work entitled I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969) is a memoir focused on Maya’s childhood experiences, particularly that of the sexual assault she experienced.
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings earned her international acclaim and got nominated for a National Book Award.
- Her first autobiography was followed by six more autobiographies: Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981); All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986); Song Flung up to Heaven (2002); and Mom & Me & Mom (2013).
- She has published several collections of poems, namely Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (1971), And Still I Rise (1978), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), and I Shall Not Be Moved (1990).
- She also wrote children’s books like My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me (1994), and collections of essays like Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993) and Letter to My Daughter (2008).
- In the 1950s, Maya Angelou moved to New York City and assumed the name “Maya Angelou” combining her childhood nickname and her then-husband’s surname.
- Angelou joined the Harlem Writers’ Guild where she got support for her literary talent.
- She also landed a featured role in a George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, with whose troupe she toured 22 countries in Europe and Africa.
- She continued her acting career by performing in Jean Genet’s play “The Blacks” in 1961.
- She moved to Cairo in that same year as persuaded by a South African dissident to whom she was married.
- In Cairo, she worked for the Arab Observer.
- She later on worked for The African Review when she moved to Ghana.
- In 1966, she returned to California.
- She wrote a television show about African culture in America entitled Black, Blues, Black which aired in 1968.
- In 1972, she wrote the screenplay for the film Georgia, Georgia and became one of the first African-American female writers whose screenplays were created into a feature film.
- She joined the Directors Guild of America in 1975 and was one of the guild’s first African-American female members.
- Maya Angelou also acted in television series and films such as Poetic Justice (1993) and How to Make an American Quilt (1995).
- She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Look Away (1973).
- She directed her first film Down in the Delta which was released in 1998.
- Documentary films have been made on Maya Angelou’s life namely Maya Angelou and Still I Rise.
- Maya Angelou began her teaching career as a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1981 despite her lack of a college education
Honors and Awards
- She was invited to write and deliver her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.
- Maya Angelou’s poem A Brave and Startling Truth was written in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995.
- Her poem His Day Is Done is an elegy to South African leader Nelson Mandela which was released in the wake of his death.
- In 1991, Maya Angelou was awarded the Langston Hughes Medal.
- In 1992, Maya received the Women in Film Crystal Award.
- In 1994, Maya was the recipient of the Spingarn Medal.
- In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by President Barack Obama.
- In 2013, she received the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award.
Personal Life and Death
- She had one son named Guy Johnson.
- She died on May 28, 2014 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Maya Angelou Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Maya Angelou across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Maya Angelou worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Maya Angelou who was an African-American who had an extensive career as a poet, essayist, memoirist, singer, actress, playwright, educator, and civil rights activist.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Maya Angelou Facts
- Maya’s Profile
- Life Road Map
- Book Title Crossword
- Book Cover
- Right Choice
- Angelou’s Awards
- Timeline Making
- Poem Analysis
- What Would Maya Say?
- Art About Angelou
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Link will appear as Maya Angelou Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 1, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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