Maya Angelou, Poet, Author, Icon, Has Died

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Maya Angelou, the sassy, African American poet, author, actress, artist and scholar, known for her frankness, honesty and ability to bring light into the darkness died this week at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86.

 

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, MO, daughter to Bailey and Vivian Johnson Angelou was nicked named "Maya" by her brother. After her parents divorced she went to live with her Grandmother in Arkansas. After four years her father returned her to her mother's care.

Angelou, at the age of seven was raped by her mother's boyfriend. He was arrested and spent one day in jail. Upon his release he was murdered. Angelou believed her voice, the voice that told, killed this man and she subsequently stopped talking for more than five years.

Rising above this childhood trauma, Angelou, was known for her many literary works; she published more than a dozen books, including autobiographies, essays and collections of poetry. In 1969, she published "Why the Cage Bird Sings" which became an instant bestseller.

Not held to one expression, Angelou was also an accomplished singer, musician and dancer. She traveled with the Opera "Porgy and Bess," studied dance from Alvin Ailey, and recorded multiple albums including "Miss Calypso," in 1957.

Angelou transitioned to writing and attacked the craft with fierceness. She wrote screenplays, books, articles, poetry, short stories, movie scripts, documentaries, and lyrics for Roberta Flack.

She had a second wind at stardom, as her star rose again with the likes of friendship with talk show queen, Oprah Winfrey, where she often talked of her youth, after the trouble using euphemisms packed with meaning, alluding to her sexuality as a young woman and the man, lucky enough at the time to receive her gifts.

Angelou was honored by President William Jefferson Clinton with the opportunity to compose a poem to be read at his inauguration.  

The statement from Dr. Maya Angelou's Family read, "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."

She continued, to the end, modernizing and adapting to the social media craze with catapulted her globally, allowing her the opportunity to influence another generation of women and girls, all over the world with her wit and wisdom.

In her final words to a world who mourn her passing she sent this via the micro-messaging platform twitter "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." 

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