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Marguerite Ann Johnson

Also Known As: "Rita", "Maya", "Angelos"
Birthplace: St Louis, MO, United States
Death: May 28, 2014 (86)
Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Bailey J. Johnson and Vivian Althea Baxter
Ex-wife of Enistasious "Tosh" Angelos; Paul B. du Feu and Vusumzi Make
Ex-partner of NN
Mother of Private
Sister of Bailey Johnson, Jr.

Occupation: Poet, civil rights activist, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, actress, professor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Maya Angelou

From Wikipedia (English):

Maya Angelou ( /ˈmaɪ.ə ˈændʒəloʊ/; born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) was an American author and poet who had been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She was best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focused on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years. It brought her international recognition, and was nominated for a National Book Award. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

Angelou was a member of the Harlem Writers Guild in the late 1950s, was active in the Civil Rights movement, and served as Northern Coordinator of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Since 1991, she has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. In 1995, she was recognized for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List.

With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou was heralded as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. She is highly respected as a spokesperson for Black people and women. Angelou's work is often characterized as autobiographical fiction. She had, however, made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books, centered on themes such as identity, family, and racism, are often used as set texts in schools and universities internationally. Some of her more controversial work has been challenged or banned in U.S. schools and libraries.

From Huffington Post:

Maya Angelou Opens Up To Oprah About Her Teen Pregnancy

When she was just 16 years old, Maya Angelou got pregnant with her son, Guy Johnson. At a time when teen mothers were often shamed and/or pushed into marrying the baby's father, the now-literary icon and renowned poet had a support system many other teen moms lacked. Dr. Angelou's own mother, Vivian Baxter, never shamed her young, unmarried, pregnant daughter, instead choosing to help the teenager and support her efforts to raise her son on her own.

In this clip from Dr. Angelou's second appearance on "Super Soul Sunday", she opens up to Oprah about becoming a teen mom. Though Dr. Angelou says she struggled with trying to be independent and work while raising a baby, she always knew one thing: that she could return home to Vivian whenever she needed help.

"The world would throw me flat on my face with this little baby I'm trying to raise," Dr. Angelou tells Oprah. "I would go home to Vivian Baxter. She would act as if it was the best thing that ever happened... She never, ever made me feel that I had done the wrong thing."

From the moment Dr. Angelou got pregnant, Vivian supported her daughter. "She said, 'Do you know who the father is?' I said, 'Yes, I only had sex with him one time, and he's the only one,'" Dr. Angelou recalls. "She said, 'All right. Do you love him?' I said no. She asked me, 'Does he love you?' I said no. She said, 'We're not going to ruin three lives. We're going to have a beautiful baby.'"

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Maya Angelou's Timeline

April 4, 1928
St Louis, MO, United States
February 24, 2009
Age 77
Memorial service held at Riverside Church, New York, New York

Memorial Service for Odetta

The All Stars of the Paleo Left — along with a capacity crowd of more than 1,000 that included Woody Guthrie’s daughter Nora and even Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara — turned out at Riverside Church for last night’s memorial service for Odetta, the legendary folk and blues singer who died in December just shy of 78. Big in voice, body, and charisma, she was variously dubbed “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement” and, by no less a fan than Martin Luther King Jr., “The Queen of American Folk Music.” Her admirers and acolytes also included Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

The evening clocked in at more than four hours of speechifying, sermonizing, and occasional singing (take that, Fidel Castro!), and was by turns moving (the testimony of loss by her niece Jan Ford and a young neighbor boy, Max Perkins), rousing (Sweet Honey in the Rock’s rendition of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”), and risible (Wavy Gravy absurdly brandishing a rubber fish). In an unavoidable burst of political correctness, Peter Yarrow of “Puff, the Magic Dragon” fame even roped his daughter Bethany and the Brooklyn Tech Choir into performing his treacly anthem of victimization, “Don’t Laugh at Me.”

Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, and Maya Angelou regaled the largely white audience of a certain age with Odetta stories and testimonials, urgently declaiming phrases like “the instruments of social oppression” and “the struggle for liberation,” as though some fabulous time machine had transported the entire gathering back to the bad old days before Barack Obama was born, when J. Edgar Hoover was collecting dirt on suspected comsymps and the Ku Klux Klan was a force to be reckoned with.

“We were young and black and female and crazy as road lizards,” said the frail-looking, cane-using Dr. Angelou, recalling her early friendship with the Alabama-born Odetta Holmes in the cabarets and coffee houses of mid-century San Francisco. “I think of her as a sister who sang us into freedom, really — because that’s what Odetta did.” The ridiculously handsome Belafonte, also leaning on a cane, celebrated the woman whom President Clinton once presented with the National Medal of Arts. “The loss for me has been so deep that words elude me,” Belafonte said. “Who will fill that space? It is hard to know.”


May 28, 2014
Age 86
Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, United States