The legend, icon and woman of the most eloquent words we have heard in our lifetime, has died. The legendary poet, activist, civil rights leader, film director, teacher, and former singer & dancer, Maya Angelou has passed away at 86, as confirmed by the mayor of her home Winston-Salem, NC, her publicist and family. She was most recently serving as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
The story of Dr. Angelou will always be a grand and legendary one, read it inside…
The Phenomenal Woman was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928. As for how she came to Maya Angelou: Her older brother Bailey gave her the nickname Maya. She adopted the last name of Angelou during the early 1950s when she began performing as a dancer and singer. The name was a variation on her first husband’s, Tosh Angelos’, surname.
We would be here for weeks if we listed the accomplishments of Dr. Angelou. But some noteworthy notations: She has 50 honorary degrees, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, several Tony Award nominations, a Grammy Award for Spoken Word, admiration from our world leaders and several other accolades during her lifetime.
The author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Phenomenal Woman, as well as spoken word artist of Sojourner Truth’s Aint I A Woman, spoke for human beings, especially black women, in a way no one could ever replicate. Our global icons such as First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have continuously shown their overwhelming admiration for the poet, who instilled a sense of pride and empowerment in those who listened to her words.
We thank Dr. Angelou for being our voice of truth, for making US feel beautiful while the world tells us (and even told her) we are not, and for staying strong in the struggle & triumphs of race and gender equality with the utmost grace.
Her contributions were the epitome of necessary, and will undoubtedly live on as she has made an undeniable imprint on our culture.
Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family from her official 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.
Guy B. Johnson
R.I.P. Dr. Maya Angelou.