A made-for-TV movie version of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was filmed in Vicksburg, Mississippi and aired on April 28, 1979 on CBS. Maya Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay, and the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played the young Maya Angelou. Also appearing were Esther Rolle, Roger E. Mosley, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, and Madge Sinclair.
The movie traces her life of Maya from when she and her brother move in with her mother to the trauma of being raped as a young girl by one of her mother's boyfriends, and the several years of silence that came after the attack.
Two scenes in the movie differed from events described in the book. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight. In it, he expresses his feelings of redemption after Louis defeats a white opponent. Angelou also presents her eighth grade graduation differently in the film. In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the black audience in the negro national anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.
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