Dr. Maya Angelou , Legend, Author and Poet Dies at the Age of 86
Winston-Salem, NC — Legendary author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou has died, according to her publicist Helen Brann. She passed away in her Winston-Salem, N.C. home after suffering from health problems, and was found by her caretaker. Born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou was raised between St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She got into writing after experiencing a childhood tragedy when she was 7, after her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him. Later in life, she moved to San Francisco and studied dance and drama, and went on to become a professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
She also went on to become one of the greatest literary writers of our time, and is especially remembered for her award-winning writings including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “A Song Flung Up To Heaven.”
Once, during in an interview with USA TODAY, she said, “I have created myself. I have taught myself so much.”
She also once notably said, “I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine… before she realizes she’s reading.”
Just last November 2013, at the age of 85, Angelou was introduced by her friend, author Toni Morrison, and presented with an award for “Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.”
This past January 2014, after the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela, Angelou published His Day Is Done, a poetic tribute to Mandela commissioned by the U.S. State Department. It was seen as an exchange of honor between two legends because Mandela had read aloud Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise, at his 1994 presidential inauguration.
She reportedly spoke more than 5 languages, and considered Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King Jr. to be among her personal friends.
NAACP’s Statement on Maya Angelou’s Passing
The NAACP released the following statements following the death of Maya Angelou:
Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors:
“Maya Angelou was a fearless writer, poet and activist who made the world a better place for her generation and those to follow. Her powerful words taught scores of young women, particularly those of color, to believe that they are phenomenal and that their voices should never be silenced. Dr. Angelou rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a force on stage, screen and the printed page. Her legacy lives on in all of us.”
Lorraine Miller, Interim NAACP President and CEO:
“The world will miss the indomitable spirit and immeasurable brilliance of Maya Angelou. She was a literary genius and a civil rights activist who will be celebrated for years to come. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Angelou during my time with the Clinton Administration and found her to be a loving and caring woman. We talked politics and laughed a lot. More than simply a renowned poet, novelist and actress, Dr. Angelou was a pioneer, a jewel of a person and a force to be reckoned with. Her humor and wit will be sorely missed.”
Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy:
“Maya Angelou was an extraordinarily gifted interpreter of the human condition for African Americans and so many others. Her words whether delivered on a page or through oration were deeply heartfelt and painfully clear. Her common touch and exceptional creative power helped so many diverse hearts find a common vision. She will be profoundly missed.”
For more information about the life and works of Maya Angelou, visit: www.MayaAngelou.com •