*Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou has died at her home in North Carolina, according to reports. She was 86.
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines confirmed Angelou was found by her caretaker on Wednesday morning.
Her death comes less than a week after Angelou announced she would not attend the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, citing “health reasons.” Last month, she also canceled an event in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because she was recovering from an “unexpected ailment” that left her hospitalized.
Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the name Marguerite Annie Johnson. She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization.
Her childhood had been marked by sexual abuse, which she detailed in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — the first of her seven published autobiographies that focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. She has also written three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years.
Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she held the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. She was a three-time Grammy winner and was nominated for a Pulitzer, a Tony, an an Emmy for her role in the groundbreaking television mini-series “Roots.”
In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. [Scroll down to watch.]
Angelou is famous for saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
She was named one of the 10 most admired North Carolinians in a recent Elon Poll.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s last tweet:
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) May 23, 2014