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Bird Family Living On A Tree In My Garden by Kanishka,age 11 from Sri Lanka

Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up between St. Louis and the then-racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas .She was an American author and poet. She wrote more than 30 published works, including seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years.

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Angelou worked a number of jobs before publishing her first book in 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which focused on her life. The memoir was about the brutality of racism in the south. Readers learned of the life of Marguerite Ann Johnson (Angelou’s birth name) up to the age of 16, how she was abandoned by her parents and was homeless and became a teen mother. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was an international bestseller and nominated for a National Book Award in 1970.

Angelou spoke at least six languages and worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. It was during that time that she wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” the first in a series of autobiographical books.

Angelou got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend attacked her. He was severely beaten and killed by a mob after she testified against him.

 “My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,” she said.

In her poem “Caged Bird,” Angelou wrote:

“A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped

and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.”

The 86-year-old was a novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist. In 2010, President Barack Obama named her the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

She is known for some beautiful and inspirational quotes about life, here is one of her more famous quotes: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

She was indeed a rainbow.

To read 50 facts about Dr. Maya Angelou:

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