- Born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Mo.
- Served as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
- Worked as editor in Egypt and Ghana in the 1960s
- 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' published in 1969
- First African-American female member of the Directors Guild of America
- Recited a poem at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration
- Won 3 Grammys, National Medal of Arts, Presidential Medal of Freedom