Maya Angelou, born, Marguerite Johnson, was sent along with her brother to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, when her parents were divorced. Growing up, she learned what it was to be a black girl in a world whose boundaries were set by whites: ?As a child she always dreamed of waking to find her ?nappy black hair? metamorphosed to a long blonde bob because she felt life was better for a white girl than for a black girl? (Rigney 45). Despite the odds, her grandmother instilled pride in young Marguerite, with religion as an important element in their home.
After five years of being apart from their mother, Marguerite and her brother, Bailey, were sent back to Saint-Louis to be with their mother. This move would change Angelous life dramatically. While living in Saint Louis, she was raped by her mothers? boyfriend. After which she confided in her brother what had happened, and soon the person was found dead. Young Marguerite believed her voice had killed him this caused her to become mute for nearly five years. Her dysfunctional childhood spent moving back and forth between her mother and grandmother caused her to struggle with
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