Maya Angelou spent her formative years in St. Louis, Stamps, Arkansas and San Francisco where she realized her ambitions of becoming the city’s first black street car conductor.
During the 1950’s, she studied dancing with Pearl Primus in New York and San Francisco. She worked as an editor for The Arab Observer, an English-language weekly published in Cairo; lived in Accra, Ghanna, where under the black nationalist regime of Kwame Nkrumah she taught music and drama; and studied cinematography in Sweden. She became a national celebrity in 1970 with the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first volume of her autobiography, which detailed her encounters with southern racism.
She has made a significant name for herself in almost every area of writing, the arts, journalism and human rights. Beginning as an SCLC staff person to an important supporter of Dr. King’s work, Dr. Angelou has been one of the most consistent fighters for human dignity, civil and human rights of our time.