Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays and several books of poetry, and was credited in plays, movies and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family and travel. Angelou was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She was born on April 4, 1928 and died on May 28, 2014.