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Writer and Poet Maya Angelou Passes Away at 86

so long and thanks for all the fish

A statement form Maya Angelou‘s family has confirmed that the renowned writer passed away this morning in her North Carolina home.

Angelou had recently canceled several speaking engagements due to health concerns. On behalf of her family, her son Guy Johnson posted this message on her Facebook page:

Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.

To say that Angelou wore many hats over the course of her life is something of an understatement. Her professional roles have included streetcar conductor, dancer, cook, sex worker, singer, composer, Tony Award nominated actress, journalist, college administrator, professor, market researcher, television producer, and film director. And that’s to omit her activism outside the workplace on behalf of the American Civil Rights and South African Anti-Apartheid movements.  It is safe to say, however, that her writing of autobiography and poetry are the accomplishments with which most folks are familiar.

In 1993 she became the first poet to make a recitation at a presidential inauguration since Robert Frost, with her piece “On the Pulse of Morning.” Her work in autobiography is considered to have made great strides both for the genre and for the state of and attention paid to the writings of African Americans and African American women. Her first, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, a history of her childhood and adolescence, has been reprinted dozens of times. After eighty six years, her words and life have only just begun what will certainly be a long, long history of touching the lives of others.

(Story via Mediaite, top pic via JStone / Shutterstock.com)

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