A major American poet, Angelou has written 36 books, many of which are bestselling titles; she is also a highly decorated author and holds over 50 honorary doctorate degrees. Some other important facts about Maya Angelou include her faith, her impact on race relations in the United States and her literary output.
Maya Angelou was born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. At the time, Stamps was known for its practice of violent racial discrimination. Angelou was influenced by the Christian faith of Annie Henderson, the paternal grandmother who raised her. Henderson taught Angelou values such as love, respect, independence and courage.
Angelou later forged relationships with civil rights leaders, such as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shortly after X was assassinated, King asked Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was distraught after King's assassination in 1968, but continued to work for the civil rights movement and was widely considered an ambassador of goodwill in regards to modern race relations.
Angelou's contribution to literature includes her well-known book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush commissioned poems from the author during their respective times in office, and President Barack Obama presented Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.