Marguerite Annie Johnson (“Maya Angelou”) (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) “was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist.” She authored seven (7) autobiographies, three (3) books of essays, many books of poetry, a number of plays, movies, and television shows produced over five (5) decades. Her work has been recognized and celebrated by a large number of awards and over fifty (50) honorary degrees. She is best known for the autobiographical chronicles of her life experiences, the first published in 1969, “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Prior to becoming an author / poetess, she was a fry cook, sex working, dancer and performer, appeared in Porgy and Bess, and Co-ordinated for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She travelled extensively as a journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the period of African decolonization. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and knew and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Angelou was named the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. She was a visiting lecturer throughout her eighties. She was invited to and did recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at the first Clinton inauguration of Bill Clinton. “She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture.” Her work is used globally in schools and universities. #blackhistorymonth