by Ellen Cox, Business Manager & Special Projects Assistant
Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, brought the author instant recognition. Born in St. Louis in 1928, Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas by her grandmother. She had a very traumatic childhood, but with her grandmother’s care she survived to become one of the most significant American authors of the twentieth century. Angelou had a varied career, including street car conductor, actress, and dancer. She had only one child—a son—born to her when she was sixteen.
In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Heart of a Woman, she wrote numerous volumes of poetry. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry and received the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Maya Angelou died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she lived and attended Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She is outstanding not because she was privileged, but because of her grace under fire. Her lifetime achievements were born out of adversity and struggle. She represents the best of people who overcome prejudice to nurture their unique gifts and to become what God intended them to be.
In recognition of Maya Angelou’s accomplishments, the Library has created a display of her significant works from our collection. The display is located to the left of the reference desk and can also be viewed on the Library’s Facebook, Google+, and Flickr pages.