Maya Angelou

Born: 4th April 1928

Died: 28th May 2014

Birth Place: United States

Known for: Being an African American author and activist.

She was the first Black woman to write a major movie screenplay.

She won three ‘Best Spoken Word Album’ Grammy awards.

Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

Life story


Early challenges


Maya Angelou was a famous African American author, poet, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, which are books about her life. She also published three books of essays, several poetry books, and a whole list of plays, movies, and television shows. She wrote for over fifty years.


Angelou had a hard childhood. She wasn’t treated very well by her mother’s boyfriend. She also didn’t speak for four years, and was sent away to her grandmother’s house to be made to speak again. She had lots of different jobs while writing: she worked as a dancer, singer, cook, driver, and even a mechanic. She also lived in Egypt and Ghana for a short time.


Career and fame


In 1969, she wrote a book called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which became famous around the world. This book tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, including details about how hard her childhood was.


Angelou received lots of awards for her work. She was given more than thirty honorary doctoral degrees from universities. The books about her life were about her experiences growing up, but they were also fiction, which means some of it was made up. She wrote about lots of different themes, such as racism, family, and travel. She wanted to change the way that books about people’s lives were written and wanted to do something different than anything that had been done before.


President Bill Clinton asked Maya Angelou to write a poem for the ceremony when he became President in 1993.


Life as an activist


Angelou did a lot of work for civil rights. She was friends with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., who were also famous activists. She was a well respected writer and activist, who did a lot of work for Black women and children.

What was Maya Angelou famous for? Which President asked Maya Angelou to write a poem for him? Who did Maya Angelou do a lot of work for?

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