Words of the Week 40/2014

Maya Angelou

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou born Marguerite Annie Johnson (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa.

She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

Words of the Week 40_2014