Born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis as Marguerite Annie Johnson, Angelou’s parents separated when she was very young, resulting in her and her brother living with their grandmother in Stamps, Ark. Angelou faced racism but also was forced to deal with the childhood trauma of being raped at 7 years old by her mother’s boyfriend, who was later killed by Angelou’s uncles. The future award-winning artist was later encouraged by her friend, author James Baldwin, to share her life experiences and the result was 1969’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
The memoir was hugely successful and launched Angelou into international stardom, but she also had other career pursuits, including appearances in off- and on-Broadway shows and participating in the civil rights movement as an activist. She befriended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and for years after his April 4, 1968, death, she did not celebrate her birthday.
Today we celebrate what would of been the 89th Birthday of our Beloved, Maya Angelou.
“Out of the huts of history’s…
By Angelou’s death in 2014, she had published seven autobiographies and several collections of poetry, including 1978’s “And Still I Rise,” and earned numerous awards and recognition. Angelou was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and Grammys before Barack Obama honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in America, in 2011.
Online, fans reflected on Angelou’s life and influence by quoting her poetry and statements.
— Suzanne Pardue (@PardueSuzanne) April 4, 2017
— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) April 4, 2017
— Unapologetically Us™ (@unapologetic_us) April 4, 2017
One noted that today marked the 49th anniversary of Dr. King’s death.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated today, it is also Maya Angelou's birthday, the juxtaposition of anguish and determination
— Mao Zubdong?☭ (@bxol_) April 4, 2017
Facebook commenters wished Angelou a happy birthday and mourned her passing.