As one of the most influential African American women of our time, Maya Angelou is a celebrated poet, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, and civil rights activist. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, Angelou spent her childhood experiencing racial discrimination. After moving to San Francisco with a scholarship to study dance and drama, she dropped out of school at 14 and became city’s first African American cable car conductor.

After giving birth to her son, she toured Europe with an opera company, recorded her first album, and joined the Harlem Writer’s Guild. By 1960 Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt, as the editor of The Arab Observer and then to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama.

Later in life Dr. Angelou helped Malcolm X create his Organization of African American Unity and served as the Northern Coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She began to work on her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1970, and now her list of works includes over 30 bestsellers. In 1993 she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Among her many accomplishments, she has received over 30 honorary degrees and won 3 Grammys.

Most recently Dr. Angelou has worked on the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and she currently works as a professor at Wakefield University in North Carolina.

-Post by Natalie Hare, Tulane University Student