Maya Angelou was an American poet, author, and civil rights activist whose work had a profound impact on American culture and society. Born in Missouri, she experienced racial discrimination and trauma throughout her childhood and adolescence. Despite these challenges, she became a prolific writer, publishing several autobiographical works, including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", as well as poetry, plays, and essays. Angelou was a close friend and mentor to civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and her writing often touched on themes of social justice, inequality, and empowerment. In addition to her literary accomplishments, she was also a professor, singer, and actress, and received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to literature and society.