Fast Facts

  • Immersed herself in literature following a personal tragedy as a child and refused to speak for nearly six years.
  • Was nicknamed Maya as a child by her older brother.
  • Was San Francisco's first black female cable car conductor.
  • As a teen she acquired a love for music and dance, and toured the world in a 1954 production of Porgy and Bess.
  • Recorded her first album Calypso Lady in 1957.
  • Joined the Harlem Writers Guild in 1958 and appeared Off-Broadway in The Blacks.
  • Worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the 1960s.
  • Published the best seller I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969, the first of seven autobiographies.
  • Wrote and delivered the poem "On the Pulse of Morning" for President Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 2000.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
  • Spoke six languages.
  • Was awarded more than 30 honorary degrees; taught American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Awards

  • 1973, Tony — Actress, Supporting or Featured (Dramatic): Nominee
  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee

Relationships

  • Bailey Johnson Jr. — Brother
  • Paul du Feu — Ex-husband
  • Bailey Johnson Sr. — Father
  • Guy Johnson — Son
  • Vivian Baxter — Mother
  • Tosh Angelos — Ex-husband
  • Vusumzi Make — Ex-husband

Details

  • Birth Name: Marguerite Ann Johnson
  • Birth Place: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
  • Birthday: April 4, 1928, Aries
  • Died: May 28, 2014
  • Profession: Author, Poet, Professor, Actor, Dancer, Director
  • User Rating:3.96 out of 5 (28 ratings)
  • Your Rating:

Trending TonightSee all »