Maya Angelou Gives Birth to Guy Johnson
When Angelou was 13, she and her brother returned to live with her mother in San Francisco.
During World War II, she attended George Washington High School and studied dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. At the end of Angelou's third autobiography, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, her son changed his name to "Guy Johnson".
Angelou's second autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, recounts her life from age 17 to 19. This book "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime,", Angelou at times working as a prostitute and as the madame of a brothel. The book describes how she moved through a series of relationships, occupations, and cities as she attempted to raise her son without job training or advanced education.
She later returned to high school, but became pregnant in her senior year and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her son, Guy. She left home at 16 and took on the difficult life of a single mother, supporting herself and her son by working as a waitress and cook, but she had not given up on her talents for music, dance, performance and poetry.
The great thing about being the son of Maya Angelou is that I had the good fortune to grow up around some of the greatest black artists, dancers, singers, musicians, and actors of our time. My mother was in "The Blacks" in 1960, and in that cast were Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, James Earl Jones, Godfrey Cambridge, Roscoe Lee Brown, Lou Gossett Jr., and there were so many more I can't even remember. In terms of musicians, Billie Holiday, Clifford Brown, Eric Dolphy, et cetera. And on the political side she headed Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, so of course I met Martin Luther King. Muhammad Ali met Malcolm X for the time at my mother's house. So I would say I had the great fortune of living with one of the most inspiring creative people, and she was my mother.”— Guy Johnson