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Maya Angelou's essay "Graduation in Stamps"

Maya Angelou's short essay "Graduation in Stamps" is a portion of her autobiographical work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This particular section tells of he graduation from the eighth grade in Stamps, Arkansas. Her recollection of that day is the recollection of a girl who began the day with high hopes, ready for the most wonderful experience of her life, and ended it in some bitterness as she encountered the ingrained racism and sexism of her day.

Maya Angelou's given name is Marguerita, and she was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. She attended public schools in Arkansas and California. She also studied music; dance with Martha Graham, Pearl Primus, and Ann Halprin; and drama with Frank Silvera and Gene Frankel. She has had a career as author, poet, professional stage and screen performer, and singer (Bowden 28). She grew up in poverty in Arkansas and then went on to a productive and multiple career. She was given the nickname Maya by her older brother. Her father was a doorman and a naval dietician. Her mother worked variously as a card dealer, boardinghouse proprietor, and registered nurse. The family moved to Long Beach, California, soon after Maya was born, but when the marriage dissolved, Maya and her brother were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, who owned and managed a general store in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas. When Maya was seven, she and her brother went to live with their mother in St, Louis, and a few months after their arrival, Maya was raped by her mother's boyfriend. The crime was discovered, and the child was forced to testify. A few days later, the assailant was found beaten to death in an alley, probably beaten by some of Maya's uncles. The girl was shocked by the perception that there was a connection between her words at the trial and the death of a man, and so Maya decided to stop speaking in public (Current Biography 8).

She maintained her silence for five y...

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Maya Angelou's essay "Graduation in Stamps". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:05, March 26, 2019, from