Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri. Maya Angelou's given name was Marguerite Johnson. In her early twenties she was given the name Maya Angelou after her debut performance as a dancer at the Purple Onion Cabaret. Her father, Bailey Johnson, was a naval dietician, and her mother's name was Vivian Johnson. She has only one older sibling, a brother named Bailey, who was named after his father. When Maya was at the age of three her parents divorced so Bailey and Maya had to move in with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

Her grandmother took really good care of them and Maya Angelou claims that her grandmother, whom she called "momma", had a deep-brooding love that hung over everything she touched. Growing up in Stamps, Angelou learned what it was like to be a black girl in a world whose boundaries were set by whites. As a child she always dreamed of waking to find herself being white because she felt life was better for a white girl than for a black girl. Despite the odds, her grandmother instilled pride in Angelou with religion as an important element in their home. After five years of being apart from their mother, Maya and Bailey were sent back to Saint Louis to be with her.

This move eventually took a turn for the worst when Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. The devastating act of violence committed against her which had caused her to become mute for nearly five years. Maya was then sent back to Stamps with her grandmother because no one can truly understand what she feels or want. After meeting a woman named Mrs. Flowers, she began to gain her pride and confidence like how she was like before. Later again in 1940, they were sent back to their mother in San Francisco, but Maya ran back to her father because she couldn't stand living with her mother, it was just too much.

During the time when she ran away, she spent her time wandering in a graveyard where there were homeless children. This is where she began to experience some of the things in her life. Angelou's dysfunctional childhood spent moving back and forth between her mother and grandmother caused her to struggle with maturity. She became determined to prove she was a woman and began to rush toward maturity. Angelou soon found herself pregnant, and at the age of sixteen she delivered her son, Even as a pregnant teenager, Maya still stayed in highschool. She kept her head up and never gave up because she feel as if this was one of the things she had to face in life.

For once in her life, she felt as if she belonged somewhere. As you can see, Maya Angelou had faced many rough times throughout her life. Angelou's sometimes disruptive life inspired her to write this book. It truly reflects the essence of her struggle to overcome the restrictions that were placed upon her in a hostile environment. She had accomplish many things in her adult life.

Because of all the things that she had experienced in life, Maya writes her story with a twist of lyrical imagery along with a touch of realism. Her problems in her adult life help her manage to become who she is today.