Maya Angelou drove a San Francisco streetcar, y’all!
Not only that: She claims she was the first black streetcar conductor in the city. And we have every reason to believe her.
Via SF Appeal:
“In an interview with Oprah, Angelou was just 16 years old and still in high school when she decided to pursue the position. The uniforms caught her eye and she soon went to apply for a job.
Though many women worked as streetcar conductors, at the time none of them were women of color. Angelou was denied an application, but that didn’t stop her from soldiering on. With her mother Vivian Baxter’s encouragement and suggestion, Angelou says she sat in SF’s transit office every day for two weeks. She would arrive earlier than the secretaries and wouldn’t leave until after they had gone for the day.”
Here’s the interview, in which the word “pizzazz” is spoken more than once:
Her stop announcements were a thing of beauty.
Good stuff from The San Francisco Appeal and our girl Oprah.
“I know why the caged bird can’t get off the bus. Step down.”
I saw that interview clip, too. Angelou said that she was the first female African-American streetcar conductor (for a few months outside out of school). She had to fight discrimination by the hiring staff but she got the job. What’s more, she worked the night shift and her mother followed the streetcar in an auto making sure no harm came to her.
And one more thing, Maya was not driving the streetcar, she was in the back collecting the fares.
Dr. Maya Angelou worked as a streetcar conductor in the summer of ’42 for the old Market Street Railway Co. (not MUNI). Her route took her from the Ferry Building (where the San Francisco Railway Museum is now) out along Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach.