1944 - Maya Angelou Becomes First Black Female Streetcar Conductor
My mother said, "Yes, but do you want the job?" And I said yes, and she said, "Go get it." "Here, I'll give you money.
Every day, you go down and be there before the secretaries get there. You sit there in the office. You read one of your big, thick Russian books. (I was reading Dostoevsky or Tolstoy or something at the time.) And when they go to lunch, you go. Go to a good restaurant. You know how to order good food. Then go back before the secretaries get back from lunch, and sit there until they leave." I did all of that. They laughed at me. They pushed out their lips and used some negative racial [slurs].... But here's the thing. I sat there because I was afraid to go home. I was afraid to tell my mother that I wasn't as strong as she thought I was. So I sat there for two weeks. Every day. And then after two weeks a man came out of his office and he said, "Come here." And he asked me why I wanted the job, and I said, "I like the uniforms." And I said, "I like people." And so I got the job.