Marguerite Ann Johnson, better known as Maya Angelou, was born on the 4th of April 1928 in St Louis, Missouri. She's an acclaimed author, poet, novelist, producer, professor and civil rights activist. She's especially well known for her string of powerful autobiographies depicting the rich yet tumultuous journey of her life. Some call Maya Angelou a global renaissance woman, and she is certainly one of the most influential women of the 20th century.
Maya's father, Bailey Johnson was a navy dietitian and her mother, Vivian Baxter was a nurse. When Maya was three, her parents divorced and in during that tumultuous period, Maya and her brother, Bailey, were sent to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson in Stamps, Arkansas. Annie Henderson, who ran the only black-owned general store in Stamps, had been able to maintain financial stability during the economic slump of the Great Depression and as such, was able to adequately care for her grandchildren. .
Back in her mothers care, when she was eight, Maya was raped and sexually assaulted by her mother's boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. Maya confided in her brother which led to Mr. Freeman's subsequent daylong incarceration and upon release, murder. Unable to deal with the pain and emotions of these traumatizing experiences, Maya Angelou spent the next five years completely silent, speaking to no one and living with the belief that "my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone." .
It was when Maya returned to live with her grandmother that she discovered reading, great literature and the endless possibilities of her creativity. The road for her artistic and literary career was paved. In 1940, after graduating with honors from the 8th grade, Maya moved to Oakland California as a 14-year-old to live with her mother again where she attended George Washington High School.