Who was the first African American woman to write a non-fiction best seller?
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.
Angelou became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa.
'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' is a 1969 autobiography describing the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou.
The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. She was the first African-American woman to write a non-fiction best-seller.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture.
Her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide, although attempts have been made to ban her books from some U.S. libraries.