My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, dancer, singer and civil rights activist.

Maya Angelou was born on April 4 in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her actual name is Margueritte Annie Johnson. She had a difficult childhood and her parents divorced when she was quite young after which she and her brother had to stay at their grandmothers’ place, in Arkansas. Already at an early age, Maya Angelou had to deal with discrimination and racial prejudices because of her African American origin. When she was older, she moved to California where her talent was soon recognized. She won a scholarship for acting and dancing at the California Labor School. During this period, she got a job as car conductor and was the first black female who ever got this job.

Her career started to take off during the 1950s. She became a performer and played several roles in well-known productions. She also brought out her first album, Miss Calypso. After, she moved abroad and lived in Egypt and Ghana where she worked as a successful editor and freelance writer. When she came back to the US, she released her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969 an autobiography. This became the first non-fiction best-seller ever by an African American woman. Her book had worldwide recognition and she continued her successful career while winning plenty of nominations, awards, and honors.

Throughout her career she published multiple autobiographies and series of poetry, including Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die (1971) which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She wrote plenty of inspirational works, such as essays, poems, and even cookbooks. When she turned older, Maya Angelou experienced health problems and she died in the end on May 28 in 2014.

A brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. She had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer.” – Barack Obama

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