Maya Angelou (Marguerite Ann Johnson) was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou attended high school in San Francisco, where she studied dance and drama. At the age of 14, she dropped out of school and became the city's first African-American, female street car conductor. She later graduated and soon after gave birth to her son, Guy. As a young woman she worked as a cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess.
Although referred to as Dr. Angelou, she never went to college. But she had more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American Studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She also spoke six languages, and worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana.