Maya Angelou – Poet and Author Dies at Age 86


If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou – award winning poet, author, educator, dancer, actress, singer, historian and civil rights activist – died last night in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at age 86.  Angelou was recovering from an ailing illness and forced by her doctor to cancel an appearance in Houston, where she was to be honored with the Beacon of Life Award on Friday. Dr. Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis Missouri, she was a renaissance woman and one of the great voices of contemporary literature.

She published several essays, books and autobiographies including her famous, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This book was the most controversial of her literary work, and was the product of a childhood tragedy, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend who was killed after she testified against him, which sent her into silence for six years. She turned pain into poetry and lived a life of eloquent strength which garnered her many admirers. Maya Angelou was a sculpture of words who taught the world about the power of words, who in her final tweet shared this…

Maya Angelou last tweet to the world.

The wordsmith whose life inspired millions around the globe, had an illustrious list of friends from Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on her birthday to Oprah Winfrey who referred to her as mentor and sister friend. In 1993 at President Bill Clinton’s request she wrote a poem for his inauguration, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which the audio version went on to win her a Grammy Award for the best spoken word album; and in 2011 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Maya Angelou was a sculpture of words.

Remembering Maya Angelou

  • She was San Francisco’s first African-American cable car conductor
  • Mrs. Angelou was one of the first black women film directors
  • Recorded her first album “Calypso Lady,” in 1957
  • Dr. Angelou never went to college but acquired more 30 honorary degrees from Universities around the world
  • She fluently spoke 6 languages
  • Won three Grammy Awards, nominated for a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize
  • First African-American female member of the Directors Guild of America
  • She was appointed lifetime chair as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, where she taught since 1982
  • Her 1969 memoir was the first non-fiction best seller by an African-American woman
  • Lived in Cairo Egypt where she was associate editor of the Arab Observer

Our prayers are with Dr. Maya Angelou’s family and friends.

Photo Credit: Dwight Carter

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