Maya Angelou (1928-2014) Poet, Writer, Author, Civil Rights Activist, Playwright, Dancer, Actress, Singer and Lecturer

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” prolific words from the remarkable force, known as Maya Angelou.  Indeed the poet, writer, author, civil rights activist, playwright, dancer, and singer has left a blistering affect on humankind with her wisdom, poetry, and prose. This legendary powerhouse has written more than 36 books 17 of which were bestsellers),  has traveled the world before the age of 30, spoke 4 different languages, and was the first female and African American to recite a poem at a Presidential Inauguration.  Throughout her career, she has gracefully demonstrated a remarkable ability to translate the African American experience, highlighting its struggles, strengths, humanity, and dignity.  In 2011, President Barack Obama bestowed upon her the honorary Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On April 4, 1928, Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents moved to Long Beach California shortly after her birth. Her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson, was a nurse, merchant seaman, and professional card dealer. Her father, Bailey Johnson Sr., served in the United States Navy and worked in the kitchen of a Naval Hospital. He had been in France during World War I and had also worked as a hotel doorman in Santa Monica.  Maya’s elder brother, Bailey Jr. give her the nickname Maya.

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