Poet Laureate and Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou, celebrated author of more than 30 books spanning poetry, essays, plays, novels, and a series of autobiographies, died Wednesday night, May 27, at the age of 86.

Born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis on April 4, 1928, Angelou experienced life fully and uniquely, working as a young woman in strip clubs, on a cable car, as an actress, and as a journalist. She wrote a series of seven autobiographies, beginning with perhaps her best known work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969).

Though she never went to college, she held more than 30 honorary doctral degrees. She was a nominee for the Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize; she was a winner of the Grammy Award and the National Medal of the Arts, among many other honors.

President Bill Clinton, who felt a connection with Angelou having also grown up poor in Arkansas, asked her to read at his 1993 inauguration, where she recited "On the Pulse of the Morning." A life-long civil rights activist and icon, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2011.

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Comments (6)

I remember that poem. I was at the inauguration and heard every word, it was wonderful.

Posted by: Belinda Green | Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 8:30 AM

So many of her writings uplifted and inspired me. The news of her death dampened my morning as if I'd lost someone in my own family.

Posted by: Ansley Haynes | Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Yes, Maya was quite an amazing women with an inspiring creative spirit. She contributed so much to us!

Posted by: Pam Athena | Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Indeed, Maya Angelou was an amazing women. The way she wrote her books, spoke, her diction while speaking was captivating. I love to listen and watch movies she was in, was just an extension of herself in live movement.

You will be truly missed, and the legacy you left us will live on forever.

Posted by: Alice Perez | Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Maya was one of many angels who has circulated love and goodness with her huge heart and wise mind. It is up to those of us still here now to remember, and to do the work that will further our growth. We only have to remember to love. We are all struggling through life's challenges. That puts us all at the mercy of each other which puts us in the same boat. Keep it steady. Love to all that love this very special women Maya Angelou. Thank you Maya for all that you gave and all that you left us.

Posted by: Deborah | Thursday May 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

What an amazing lady who brought us so much. She will be greatly missed, but always remembered.

Posted by: Andrea R | Saturday May 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

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