Maya Angelou Biography

Maya Angelou

Quick Facts About Maya Angelou

Celebrated Name Maya Angelou
Age 93 Years
Nick Name Maya
Birth Name Marguerite Annie Angelou
Birth Date 1928-04-04
Gender Female
Profession Author
Place Of Birth St. Louis, Missouri
Nationality American
Birth Nation USA
Ethnicity Mixed
Race Black
Horoscope Aries
Father Bailey Johnson
Mother Vivian Baxter Johnson
Siblings 1
Brothers Bailey Johnson Jr.
Religion Christian
School California Labor School
High School George Washington High School
Awards Grammy
Marital Status Married
Husband Tosh Angelos (Ex) and Paul du Feu (Ex)
Sexual Orientation Straight
Children 1
Son Guy
Net Worth $10 Million
Source of Wealth Books and Poet Career
Height 5 ft 5 in
Weight 68 KG
Eye Color Black
Hair Color Black
Links Wikipedia

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights, activist. During her lifetime, she published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and also she is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She was renowned for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. She became a poet and writer after a string of odd jobs during her young adulthood which included fry cook, sex worker, nightclub performer, Porgy and Bess cast member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinator, and correspondent in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. Furthermore, she was also an actress, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Moreover, she was also active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. With the publication of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", she publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. The week after Angelou's death, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings rose to number 1 on Amazon.com's bestseller list. Her books center on themes including racism, identity, family, and travel. Maya is also known for her feminist thoughts, as mentioned in her famous poem "Phenomenal Woman". Sadly, she dies at 86 on May 28, 2014. 

Maya Angelou Cause of Death

Maya Angelou died on 28th May 2014 at the age of 86. She was found by her nurse. Although Angelou had reportedly been in poor health and had canceled recent scheduled appearances, she was working on another book, an autobiography about her experiences with national and world leaders. During her memorial service at Wake Forest University, her son Guy Johnson stated that despite being in constant pain due to her dancing career and respiratory failure, she wrote four books during the last ten years of her life. He said, "She left this mortal plane with no loss of acuity and no loss in comprehension." Tributes to Angelou and condolences were paid by artists, entertainers, and world leaders, including Obama, whose sister was named after Angelou, and Bill Clinton. Harold Augenbraum, from the National Book Foundation, said that Angelou's "legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to." Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman in the United States quarter. It is the first to be released in the American Women Quarters Program. KRON4 spoke with East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who led the effort to create the coins. Soon you could be holding a historic coin in your hands. The U.S. Mint began shipping the coins this week. "I'm just excited because so many who have contributed to the building of this country, the public only sees the founding fathers, and now they’ll be able to see women, women of color, and our first coin is our beloved Dr. Maya Angelou," Lee said. Lee co-authored the bill to create the first American Women Quarters Program. Angelou is the first of six women honorees whose coins will be in circulation through 2025. She is pictured with her arms uplifted, with a bird in flight behind her. 

Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Woman on a Quarter

Source: @nytimes

What was Maya Angelou Known For?

  • Being an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.
  • For her magnum opus, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the first among her famous series of 7 autobiographies.
  • For her voice against racial prejudices and her contribution as a civil rights activist.

What was Maya Angelou Ethnicity?

Maya Angelou was born on 4th April 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, the USA. Her real name was Marguerite Annie Johnson. She held American nationality and her ethnic background was Mixed as she had African-American ancestry with a probability of 1/8th Irish roots. Her race was black. She lastly celebrated her 86th birthday with her close ones. Aries was her Zodiac sign and she followed the Christianity religion. About her parents, she was born to her father, Bailey Johnson, and her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson. Her dad was a Doorman and Navy Dietitian and her mother was a nurse and card dealer. She also had an older sibling, a brother namely Bailey Johnson Jr. 

Focusing on her education, she graduated from the California Labor School. Then, she attended George Washington High School. She didn't go to college but she had received more than fifty honorary degrees in her lifetime. 

Maya Angelou Career Timeline and Lifestory

  • Maya Angelou initially took modern dance classes where she met dancers and choreographers Alvin Ailey and Ruth Beckford. The trio formed a dance team, calling themselves "Al and Rita".  
  • In 1954, she started professionally dancing in clubs including the nightclub The Purple Onion, where she sang and danced to calypso music.
  • Next, she toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess between years 1954-1955. 
  • After that, she recorded her first album, "Miss Calypso", which was reissued as a CD in 1996.
  • She then made an appearance in an off-Broadway review which inspired the 1957 movie "Calypso Heat Wave". 
  • She was introduced to John Oliver Killens, a popular author in 1959. She began writing as a member of the "Harlem Writers Guild" on John's suggestion. 
  • After then, she meet human rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960. She alongside Novelist, Killens held a musical program entitled "Cabaret for Freedom" to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
  • She performed in Jean Genet's play "The Blacks" in 1961. 
  • She was also employed by "The Arab Observer" for which she worked as an assistant editor.
  • She later became an administrator at the University of Ghana and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review as well. 
  • In Ghana, she met social activist Malcolm X. She went back to the United States to assist him in founding the "Organization of Afro-American Unity". After Malcolm's murder, she moved to Hawaii to be with her brother. 

American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou

Source: @nytimes

  • She settled down in New York in 1967 and started her writing. During this time, she wrote several plays, even acting in some of them. 
  • In the year 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. asked her to organize a march. She agreed but postponed again, and in what Gillespie calls "a macabre twist of fate", he was assassinated on her 40th birthday (April 4).
  • She next wrote, produced, and narrated "Blacks, Blues, Black!", a ten-part series of documentaries about the connection between blues music and Black Americans' African heritage, and what Angelou called the "Africanisms still current in the U.S." for National Educational Television, the precursor of PBS.
  • In 1968, she wrote her first autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", published in 1969 which brought her to fame. 
  • In the year 1972, she wrote the screenplay for "Georgia, Georgia" becoming the first black woman to write a film script. 
  • Her second autobiography "Gather Together in My Name" was published in 1974. After two years, she came up with another autobiography titled "Singin' and Swingin and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas". 
  • Also, she was cast in "Roots" in 1977. Next, she released two more autobiographies, namely "The Heart of a Woman" and "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes". 
  • She next joined the 'Wake Forest University' in North Carolina as a lecturer under 'Reynolds Professorship of American Studies'.
  • She then directed "Moon", a play by Errol John, which was performed at London's 'Almeida Theatre.'
  • She was invited by President Bill Clinton to read out her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" in 1993. 
  • In June 1995, she delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem", entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. 
  • She released a music album titled "Been Found" in association with singers Ashford & Simpson.
  • She directed "Down in the Delta" in 1998.  Her sixth autobiography "A Song Flung Up to Heaven" in 2002. 
  • She released two cookbooks, "Hallelujah! The Welcome Table" and "Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart".
  • Further, she was in the presidential campaigns of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.
  • In 2013, she released her last and seventh autobiography "Mom & Me & Mom" at the age of 85 which focuses on her relationship with her mother. 

Awards and Achievements

  • In 1971, Maya Angelou was nominated for the "Pulitzer Prize" for her book 'Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore IDiiie.' 
  • In 1973, she won a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the Broadway "Look Away".
  • From 1994 to 1996, this writer was awarded the 'Grammy' on two occasions under the 'Best Spoken Word Album' category for her poems 'On the Pulse of Morning' and 'Phenomenal Woman.'
  • She received the 'National Medal of Arts' in the year 2000, the highest honor presented to an artist by the government of the United States of America.
  • In 2003, she won Grammy for "A Song Flung Up to Heaven" under the 'Best Spoken Word Album' category.
  • She was awarded the Lincoln Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • She received honorary degrees from more than 50 educational institutions. 

Maya Angelou Personal Life: Who was she married to?

Maya Angelou was a married woman. Firstly, she married a Greek electrician, sailor, and an aspiring musician named Tosh Angelos in the year 1951. She gave birth to their son named Guy. Later, the duo ended up in a divorce in the year 1954 after three years of their togetherness. After then, she dated Vusumzi Make from 1961 to 1962. Later, she was married to Welsh carpenter, Paul du Feu. Paul was previously married to writer Germaine Greer. In the year 1974, Paul and Maya got married and she had described their relationship as a match "made in heaven" in her second book Even the Stars Look Lonesome. But, they eventually got divorced in 1983. After that, she was not seen by anyone. Her sexual orientation was straight. 

Maya Angelou with her then husband, Paul Du Feu

Souce: @eurweb

How much was Maya Angelou Net Worth?

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist whose net worth was believed to have $10 Million as of 2022. She was most famous for writing the 1969 autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which quickly became an international bestseller and is still standard reading material in many high schools. She had appeared in the TV commercials for Public Broadcasting System (1999), Union Bank of California (2013), Wake Forest University (2014). In the year 1994, she paid $575,000 for a home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The year after her death, Shelley and Daryl Bible bought the house for $500,000 and spent more than $1 million on renovations. They put the home on the market for $2.395 million in March 2020, and it sold for $2 million a few months later. Details regarding her career earning are still to get disclosed yet. Her main source of wealth is from poet career. 

Maya Angelou Height and Weight

Maya Angelou was a beautiful and pretty woman with a charming smile and glowing face. She had a tall height of 5 ft 5 in or 165 cm and her body weight was 68 kg or 150 lbs. Her body type was average. Her hair color was black and she had a pair of black eyes. She had a gap between her front teeth. Her body measurement is still to get revealed yet. 

Did You Know?

  • Marguerite Annie Johnson was her real name.
  • She didn't go to college but she had received more than fifty honorary degrees in her lifetime.
  • She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
  • She was known for her feminist thoughts, as mentioned in her famous poem "Phenomenal Woman".
  • Angelou is the first of six women honorees whose coins will be in circulation through 2025.
  • She became a poet and writer after a string of odd jobs during her young adulthood which included fry cook, sex worker, nightclub performer, Porgy and Bess cast member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinator, and correspondent in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa.