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In 1968 Maya Angelou was in Memphis, Tennessee helping to organize the Poor People’s March in support of striking garbage collectors in that city. Spearheading this protest was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who while in Memphis was gunned down by an assassin. Deep in grief over the loss of her friend, Angelou was eventually encouraged by writer James Baldwin and cartoonist Jules Feiffer to get active again by writing a memoir of her early years. That volume, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” would become required reading in most American school systems and a subject of controversy regarding its content. Maya Angelou with this work and subsequent books of poetry and biography would be among the first African-American women writers to achieve mainstream literary success. This and many other triumphs came to an end when Angelou died May 28 in her Winston Salem, North Carolina home at age 86.
In addition to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Merrick Library has the following books written by Maya Angelou:
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (biography)
Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (read at the 2005 White House Christmas Tree Lighting)
And Still I Rise (poetry)
The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (includes “On the Pulse of Morning”, read at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton)