Mint green square with white sans serif font reading "Maya Angelou."

Maya Angelou was an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a difficult childhood and due to a traumatic event at the age of 7 she became mute. Though she didn’t speak for many years she discovered a passion for singing and dance eventually winning a scholarship to study at the California Labor School. In the mid-1950’s, Angelou’s career as a performer began to take off. She toured as a singer and actress, eventually earning a Tony nomination by 1973 and Emmy nod by 1977. Angelou published several collections of poetry, but her most famous was 1971’s collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. By the 2000’s she had won a Grammy, published a New York Time’s best seller and recited her work at a presidential inauguration. When she passed away in 2014, President Barack Obama issued a statement calling Maya Angelou, “a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.”