Born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.
As an African American, Angelou experienced firsthand racial prejudices and discrimination in Arkansas. Angelou was urged by friend and fellow writer James Baldwin to write about her life experiences. Maya Angelou’s literary works continued to break new ground—not just artistically, but educationally and socially. Angelou received several honors throughout her career. She died on May 28, 2014.