poet, writer, composer, actress
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri
Grammy Award-winning poet, writer, composer and actress who has appeared in several Off-Broadway productions, including Jean Genet's The Blacks (1960). She wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), a humorous autobiography about growing up in segregated Arkansas and completed her autobiography with 2002's A Song Flung Up to Heaven. In 1981 she was appointed to a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. She read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration.