Maya Angelou has touched the hearts of many with her shocking and inspirational autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and has amazed many with her provocative and eccentric life style. .
Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis to Mr. Bailey and Mrs. Vivian Baxter Johnson. Sadly, at the age of three, her parents divorced and Marguerite and her brother, Bailey Jr., who nicknamed her Maya, were sent to live with their father's mother. Thus began the roller coaster of Marguerite's life. She went back and forth from her mother to her grandmother on a couple of occasions. And finally, when she was seven, she returned to live with her mother. These living conditions however, were soon terminated when her mother's live-in boyfriend raped her. When Marguerite finally came up with the courage to confess to her mother what had happened, the man who had raped her was mysteriously murdered. After that tramatizing expierence, she returned to live with her grandmother and was a voluntary mute for five years. (Showalter, 3).
When asked questions reguarding this portion of her past, Angelou only said, "The mature woman looks back on her bittersweet childhood, yet her authorial voice retains the power of the child's vision" (Showalter 2). She then continues to say, "I was as pure as moonlight and only begun to live. My escapades were the fumblings of my youth and to be forgiven as such" (Showalter 4).
At the age of fourteen she received a two year scholarship to study dance and drama at the California Labor School. Afterward, she attended George Washington High School. It was then that she decided she wanted to be a street car conductor. She was determined to have the job, and all Maya could hear were her mother's words of advice, constantly running through her head about the erroneous mistakes of self defeat "Nothing beats a trial but a failure. Give it all you got" (Angelou 259).