Maya Angelou's Life

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Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis,

Missouri. She was the second child of Bailey Johnson and Vivian Baxter. At the age of three her

parents marriage ended and she and her older brother Bailey ( who was 5 at the time ) was sent to

live with their father’s mother, Annie Henderson in Stamps,Arkansas. Angelou’s grandmother

Annie was the child of freed slaves and also became the leader of the black community in

Stamps. She was the owner of the only black grocery store in that small town. In Stamps,

Angelou experienced racial discrimination but also developed a deep religious faith.

When Angelou was only seven years old she visited her mother in Chicago and was

raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Freedman. Angelou
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Later Angelou returned but became pregnant with her only son “Guy” just weeks

before her graduation. At the age of 16 Angelou left home and began to struggle as a single

parent. She worked as a waitress and cook but never give up on her dreams and endless talents.

In the year of 1952, Angelou married a greek sailor named Anastasios Angelopulos.

When Angelou’s career began as a nightclub singer she decided to take on the name “Maya

Angelou” combining her nickname and a shorten form of her husband’s name. It was Angelou’s

brother that give her the nickname “Maya.” As a child he was unable to pronounce her name

because of a stuttering problem and called her “My” for “my sister” and years later he read a

book on the Maya indians and began to call her Maya. Angelou’s marriage ended quickly but her

dreams continued.

In Europe, during the years of 1954 and 1955 Angelou toured in a production of “Porgy

and Bess.” Angelou also appeared on television variety shows dancing with Alvin Ailey and

also studied modern dance with Martha Graham. In 1957, Angelou recorded her first album

called “Calypso

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