MAYA Angelou "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author known for numerous poetry and essay collections. One of the most prolific writers of our time, black or otherwise, Maya Angelou's storied career spanned several decades and included the publication of everything from poetry and essays to several autobiographies, including 1969's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The deeply personal and extremely successful book, chronicled Angelou's experiences of rape, identity and racism as a young girl in the south. It earned the her the distinction of penning the first nonfiction best-seller by an African American woman.
During World War II, Angelou moved to San Francisco, California. There she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School.
Also during this time, Angelou became the first black female cable car conductor — a job she held only briefly — in San Francisco.
In the mid-1950s, Angelou's career as a performer began to take off. She landed a role in a touring production of Porgy and Bess, later appearing in the off-Broadway production Calypso Heat Wave (1957) and releasing her first album, Miss Calypso (1957).
A member of the Harlem Writers Guild and a civil rights activist, Angelou organized and starred in the musical revue Cabaret for Freedom as a benefit for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also serving as the SCLC's northern coordinator.
Biography.com Editors. Maya Angelou Biography. A&E Television Networks. April 2, 2014.
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