Bailey Johnson Jr. was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the first-born child of his family and was born one year before his sister, famous black American poet Maya Angelou.
He is also credited as being responsible for giving her the nickname "Maya." Her birth name was Marguerite, but he often referred to her as "Mya Sister" or simply "My" when they were growing up together. After their parents' marriage fell apart, Bailey Johnson Sr. sent his children to live with his mother, Annie Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas. In the years following, they would be sent back to live with their mother, then again with their grandmother, and finally with their mother once again, this time in Oakland, California, where they would finish their adolescence. From here, their paths diverged, with Maya going on to international acclaim and renown as one of America's greatest creative minds in poetry and literary prose.
Bailey Johnson, Jr., died in the year 2000 after suffering a series of strokes. Maya outlived him, dying in the early morning of May 28, 2014.Learn more about Poetry