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What are some facts about Maya Angelou?

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Quick Answer

One fact about the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is that she was born Marguerite Annie Johnson. Her professional name is a combination of her childhood nickname "Maya," which her brother Bailey bestowed on her, and the shortened nickname of her first husband Anastasios Angelopulos, a Greek sailor and aspiring musician. Angelou's most celebrated literary work was her autobiographical book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

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A natural performer, Angelou attended the California Labor School where she won a scholarship to study acting and dance. She became pregnant her last year in high school, and a few weeks after graduation, she gave birth to her only son Clyde "Guy" Johnson. Angelou took a variety of jobs to support herself and her son. She even became the first black female cable car conductor in San Francisco, a position she held briefly before giving birth.

Angelou was a poet, songwriter, actor, dancer, historian, director, playwright, civil rights activist and teacher. She was friends with Martin Luther King Jr., who died on her birthday, prompting Angelou to stop celebrating her birthday. She wrote "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" after encouragement from her friend James Baldwin. She was also friends with Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey.

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  • Q:

    What are some of Maya Angelou's contributions to society?

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    Maya Angelou's contributions to society include literature, acting, film, education and civil rights activism. In addition to writing her classic books and poems, she also directed television, wrote scripts, produced documentaries, wrote and composed music for Broadway, and gave an inauguration address for President Bill Clinton in 1993.

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  • Q:

    What influenced Maya Angelou to write?

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    According to Biography.com, author James Baldwin convinced Maya Angelou to write about her life. The result was the 1969 bestselling memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings;" it led to international recognition for Angelou.

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  • Q:

    What is "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou about?

    A:

    Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" is about the humiliation that blacks have felt as a result of racism and oppression over the past centuries, calling them to stand up for themselves with pride and dignity. The speaker's refusal to give in to the lies of history, and succeed in spite of all of the false beliefs that others have, brings a powerful message.

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  • Q:

    When was Maya Angelou's brother born?

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    Maya Angelou's older brother, Bailey Johnson, Jr, was born sometime in the year 1927. His parents were Bailey and Vivian (Baxter) Johnson.

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