Poet and novelist Maya Angelou (birth name: Marguerite Ann Johnson) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928. In 1940, she moved to San Francisco with her mother and brother, and gradually became associated with a professional theatre. After a few years, she moved to San Diego. She auditioned for an international tour of Porgy and Bess and won a role. From 1954 to 1955, she toured 22 countries. In 1959, she moved to New York and got involved with the civil rights movement. In 1961, she moved to Egypt and got a job with the Arab Observer. Subsequently, she headed to Ghana, where she took a job at the African Review, and stayed for several years. Her writing and personal development flourished under the African cultural renaissance that was taking place.
On the Pulse of Morning, The Rock cries out to us today, I Know Why the caged bird sings, Phenomenal Woman, Human Family, When I Think About Myself, Still I Rise, are some of her famous poetries. She was best known for her seven autobiographical books some which include Mom & Me & Mom, Letter to My Daughter, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, The Heart of a Woman, Merry Like Christmas, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas.
In 1992, Angelou was designated as a poet laureate by the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. She composed and recited an original poem for his inauguration titled On the Pulse of Morning. In 2000, she received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2010 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Angelou died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she had served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1982.