Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was born in St Louis, Missouri. When her parent’s marriage collapsed, three year old Maya and her four year old brother, Bailey, were put on a train to Stamps, Arkansas and their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson.
Annie Henderson, one of the wealthiest inhabitants of the area, provided the children with a safe, structured, strict environment. While living with her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson, eight-year-old Maya was first sexually abused and then raped by her mother’s partner. Freeman was convicted but was only jailed for one day. Shortly after his release from prison, Freeman was murdered.
Maya stopped speaking, and the children were again returned to their grandmother, this time until Maya was fourteen. While living with her grandmother, Maya was introduced to literary greats such as Charles Dickes and Edgar Allan Poe by a Mrs Bertha Flowers. Mrs Flowers encouraged the child to speak again by talking about the literature. Maya completed her high school education when living back with her mother, and she became the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Maya Angelou has written numerous books, including autobiographies, poetry and essay, and has received many awards and honorary doctorates.