42 pages 1 hour read

Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & Mom

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2013

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Key Figures

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Ann Johnson in 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou’s childhood years were difficult, as her parents, Vivian Baxter and Bailey Johnson, separated when she was three. She and her older brother, Bailey Jr. (or simply Bailey), who was four at the time, were sent to live with their paternal grandmother, Anne Henderson, and uncle Willie in Stamps, Arkansas. Bailey is the one who nicknamed Angelou “Maya.” Angelou’s grandmother owned a general store in the Black section of Stamps, which was prosperous despite the Great Depression. The family experienced racism by the white community.

During a brief return to her mother, seven-year-old Angelou was sexually assaulted by Vivian’s boyfriend. She confessed the event to her mother, and it eventually became known to the whole family. The man was put on trial and convicted but then released. Soon after, the man was murdered. Traumatized by the experience, Angelou became mute for several years, believing her voice was the cause for the rapist’s death. She continued living with her grandmother in Arkansas, where she attended Lafayette County Training School, taking an interest in poetry and authors like Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare.

As teenagers, Angelou and Bailey were sent to live with their mother in San Franscisco, California.