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Maya Angelou Dies

May 28, 2014 by  

Maya Angelou Dies, Celebrated memorist and poet Maya Angelou, 86, who was found dead Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., was a high school dropout who became a professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Angelou was an American Study herself. “I have created myself,” she told USA TODAY in 2007, “I have taught myself so much.”

She defied labels. She was a walking encylopedia of careers and passions. She wrote 36 books. She was an actress, director, playwright, composer, singer and dancer. She once worked as a madam in a brothel and as the first female and first black street car conductor in San Francisco.

Renowned African-American poet, historian, and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou, was found dead in her home at the age of 86. Best known for her literary works, Angelou was also heavily involved in politics.

She was best known for her debut memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which remains widely read in schools. She described being raped at 8 (by her mother’s boyfriend) and becoming an unwed mother at 17. (She is survived by her son, Guy Johnson, a poet and novelist).

She was friends with Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X as well as Oprah Winfrey who hosted grand birthday parties for Angelou.

In a statement, Winfrey said, “I’ve been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20s. She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ is one of my best lessons from her.”

Winfrey noted that Angelou won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. “But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”

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