Part C- Context of the Text

Maya Angelou's Life

Maya Angelou's Birth

April 24, 1928

Beginning of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"


Maya is 3 years old and lives in Stamps, Arkansas with her brother Bailey and her grandmother.

Maya Gets A Job as a Bus Driver


At this point, Maya was 15 years old, and only whites were allowed to drive buses, bu t out of sheer determination she managed to get the job.

End of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"


Maya is 17 years old and living with her mother in San Francisco, California. She has just given birth to her first child.

Historical Events

Harlem Rennaissance

1920 - 1935

The Harlem Renaissance was a major artistic awakening among African-Americans. Key figures included Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Langston Hughes in one of the authors that Maya mentions growing up with and loving as a child.

Klu Klux Klan's Prime Years

1925 - 1930

Maya's Mother Returns

1935 - 1937

Bailey and Maya are taken to St. Louis to live with their again. While they are there, Maya is raped and abused by her mother's boyfriend.

Berlin Olympics

August 9, 1936

Jesse Owens becomes the first American to win 4 gold medals in one Olympics, proving Hitler's ideas about Aryan supremacy wrong.

Maya's Renaming


Maya worked briefly as a maid for a white woman, who renamed her Mary. This was a common practice among racist whites, who degraded their black servants by not bothering to remember their names and picking their own.

World War 2

1939 - 1945

A turning point for blacks in America, because of the war which they were either fighting as equally as the whites, or back at home working jobs they never had the opportunity to before because there were very few white men left to work.

Move to San Francisco


Maya and her brother leave Stamps for good to move to San Francisco with their mother. Maya attends high school and studies dance and drama.

Smith v. Allwright

April 3, 1944

US Supreme Court rules that the white primary which prevented blacks from voting was unconstitutional.