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Maya Angelou (Writer)

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was sent to live with her paternal grandmother after her parents separated. The two children - 3 year old Maya and her brother, 4 year old Bailey - travelled alone by train from St Louis, Missouri to Stamps, Arkansas and lived with their grandmother for 4 years. While living with her mother in California, 8-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 14. While living with her grandmother, Maya was introduced to literary greats such as Charles Dickes and Edgar Allan Poe by a Mrs Bertha Flowers who 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 published her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969 and went on to publish many more books, poetry and essays. She received numerous awards in her lifetime including a Pulitzer Prize nomination and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. In 2022, the US Mint released a 25 cent coin with Angelou's portraited on one side.

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