Maya Angelou was 16 years old when she decided to become a streetcar conductor in San Francisco.
But getting the job wasn’t easy. She couldn’t even get an application when she first tried to apply. So at the recommendation of her mother, she staged a sit-in.
“I sat there at the office for two weeks, every day. I sat there because I was afraid to tell my mother that I wasn’t as strong as she thought I was.
Then after two weeks, a man came out of his office and said ‘come here.’ And he asked me ‘why do you want the job?’ I said ‘I like the uniforms.’ And I said ‘and I like people.’ And so I got the job.”
And so young Maya broke racial barriers as a teen by becoming the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco.
Note: We couldn’t find a photo of Maya in her uniform. This photograph is of her as a teen in San Francisco.