Maya Angelou is an Afro-American poet who has written poems that are simple in language and deep in meaning. This research is a socio-racial study of Maya Angelou's selected poems from her first collection; Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971). It uses sociological criticism to analyze the poems; first, the paper covers the background and the social condition of the emergence of African American literature. It highlights the nature of their literary works in relation to their social life and racial segregation that they encountered. Secondly, it defines racism and its different types, overt and institutional racism as a part of the societal life in the United States of America. To clarify these two types of racism in the poems of Maya Angelou, the poems are analyzed in relation to the racial theories of overt and institutional racism. Finally, the study concludes that Maya Angelou's poems expose racial discrimination and prejudice with the aim of reforming the social life of African American people, and ends with a list of the works cited.