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Life Of Maya Angelou Essay

1273 words - 5 pages

Maya the poet, the author, the play-write, actress, mother, civil rights activist, historian, director, producer; Maya the Genius. Maya Angelou is the ultimate Renaissance woman and is one of the great voices of contemporary literature (mayaangelou.com). She is also one of the most influential African-Americans in American history. Through my research and readings about Maya I have come to the conclusion that she is an American genius. Maya has beaten the odds and become one of the most well known African American women of today.Maya was born April 4th 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her birth name is Marguerite Johnson, and it wasn't until her early twenties that she was given the name Maya Angelou. Maya was born to Bailey, a naval dietician, and Vivian Johnson, a nurse. She also had a brother named Bailey, after their father. Maya and Bailey were raised in a rural segregated community in Stamps, Arkansas by their grandmother and uncle. Maya's grandmother was a very strict woman, and wanted to make sure that Maya and Bailey grew up to be the best they could. During the time that Maya was growing up, America was just recovering from the Great Depression and it was also a time when African Americans were oppressed. Despite the odds of growing up in such a time period, Maya's grandmother was able to instill pride in her with religion being an important element in their family.The children lived with their grandmother five years before they moved back to St. Louis with their mother. It was during this time that the most violating and devastating thing that could possibly happen to a woman, happened to Maya. She was raped by her mother's boyfriend, causing her to become mute for almost 5 years. Because nobody could handle the deep depression Maya faced, she was sent back to live with her grandmother in Stamps. Shortly after returning to Stamps, Maya met a woman named Bertha Flowers who was able to bring Maya out of her mute state. " Mrs. Flowers she had the grace of control to appear warm in the coldest of weather... she acted just as refined as the white folks," (Angelou, Caged Bird 76-78). Mrs. Flowers introduced the works of Shakespeare, Hawthorne, and other authors to Maya. Mrs. Flowers was able to evolve Maya into a young girl possessing pride and confidence (http//voices.cla.umn.edu/authors/angeloumaya.html).Maya was a very good student and loved to read. She graduated at the top of her eighth grade class, from Lafayette County Training School in 1940.Maya went on to attend George Washington High School, and graduated in 1945. Shortly after graduation, Maya gave birth to her son Guy Bailey Johnson. Throughout my research on Maya, I found many dates and time periods to be conflicting. It was sometime around 1945 that Maya became the first black female conductor for the San Francisco streetcars.Maya had many jobs while living in San Francisco. She was a Creole cook, a tap dancer, and did odd-jobs to support her and her son. In 1952 Maya met a Greek...

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