Leonard Pitts Jr.: Angelou soars free and high above

May 30, 2014 7:13 AM

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It is not difficult to imagine why Maya Angelou saw herself in those words, and she chose "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" as the title of the celebrated 1969 memoir that would make her famous. Black girl, born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis to parents whose interest in her might best be described as sporadic, coming of age during the Great Depression, an early childhood in the soul-crushing segregation of tiny Stamps, Ark., raped as a child by her mother's boyfriend, rendered mute for years afterward by the experience, an unwed mother at 17, briefly and unsuccessfully a prostitute not long after that … did circumstance and happenstance ever leave any bird more effectively caged?

And did any bird ever beat its wings against its bars to greater effect?

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