Dr. Maya Angelou attends her 82nd birthday at a party with friends and family at her home on May 20, 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Steve Exum/Getty Images)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- In Today's Black History spotlight, we're talking about Maya Angelou.
She's a world famous poet, author, historian, singer and civil rights activist.
Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She was raised in St. Louis and in Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Angelou faced racial discrimination, as well as learned the faith and values of a traditional African-American family, community and culture.
Angelou moved to California to attend San Francisco's Labor school on a dance scholarship, but dropped out at 14 and became the city's first African-American female cable car conductor.
After she graduated high school she became a working single mother with the birth of her son Guy.
She toured Europe with a production of Porgy and Bess in 1954-1955. She studied dance, recorded an album, and in 1958 moved to New York and performed in an off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks.
She moved to Egypt in 1960 to become the editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. Then she moved to Ghana to teach at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama and worked on local newspapers.
Angelou learned several languages while abroad including French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti.
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, that fell on Angelou's birthday in 1968, left her devastated.
Her now infamous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1970. It was received with international acclaim and enormous popular success.
Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. According to her website, her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Angelou has won numerous awards and commendations including the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received three Grammy Awards. She has also received 30 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.