Maya Angelou is a writer, poet, performer, and a director. Before anything else, she is woman; a black woman. She was born Marguerite Johnson, on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. After her parents? marriage broke up, Angelou and her older brother, who gave her the nickname ?Maya,? moved to the rural town of Stamps, Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother. In the mid-1930s, after the two children had returned to St. Louis to live with their mother, her mother?s boyfriend raped Maya, who was only seven. A few days after she was forced to testify at his trial, her rapist was found beaten to death in an alley, apparently murdered by some of Angelou?s uncles. Traumatized by the whole experience, Angelou stopped speaking altogether, and she and her brother, Bailey, moved back to Arkansas.
Through her study of writing, literature, and music, Angelou gained the will to speak again. Maya had found the voice that would be heard by everyone in years to come. By the age of 12, she became known in the town of Stamps for her precocious intelligence. While attending high school, she won a scholarship in dance and drama
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