Visiting the Childhood Home of Maya Angelou

Visiting the Childhood Home of Maya Angelou

The death of Maya Angelou has special meaning in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas.
STAMPS, AR -- The death of Maya Angelou has special meaning in the small town of Stamps, Arkansas.

Angelou lived here as a young child, and her experiences were retold in some of Angelou's most famous works.

"She was a jolly person," said a woman who goes by Mary B.

As we sat in the living room of an old house off Waldo St., the 74-year-old spoke about growing up with Maya Angelou.

"She stayed here, you know, most of her young childhood, she and her brother," said Mary B.

Angelou moved to Stamps in the early 1930s.

"She would work in the store when she was here," Mary B. said of the grocery store made famous in Angelou's "I know Why The Caged Bird Sings."

An empty lot is all that remains of the the store today.

Angelou was "very smart," Mary B said as she showed us the beat-up building where they both attended grade school.

It's the location where Angelou famously defied her black principal and proudly sang the Negro National Anthem in front of white administrators.

"This is where she got her start," said Rev. Sherley Bedford-Allen standing in front of the pulpit at the Brown Chapel Christian Methodist Church.

The church has been torn down and rebuilt since, but locals say this is the location where Angelou first wowed congregations with her performances in Easter plays and singing during services.

"She means everything because she's an example and a mentor that we can look up to," said Bedford-Allen.

As Angelou grew to fame, locals say she would come back to visit, speaking at churches or just stopping by for a meal.

"She didn't let her success, in my opinion, go to her head," said Mary B.

Flags flew at half staff Wednesday at city buildings in Stamps for the woman who came from humble beginnings to earn world-wide respect.

"Being a small town... we felt real proud of her."

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