She toured Europe and Africa in the musical Porgy and Bess in the 1954–55 season. She then sang in New York City nightclubs, joined the Harlem Writers Guild, and took part in several Off Broadway productions, including Genet's The Blacks and her own Cabaret for Freedom (1960). During the 1960s she was active in the African-American political movement; she subsequently spent several years in Ghana as editor of the African Review. She read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Clinton in 1993. Her five autobiographical volumes have been well-received, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970). She has also published several volumes of poetry, including And I Still Rise (1987).
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