Maya Angelou, a well-known author and poet as well as a person of stage and screen has died at the age of 86, according to Yahoo! News on Wednesday. In recent times, she may be best known for her writing and performance at President Bill Clinton’s first presidential inauguration in 1993. Her death was confirmed in a statement released by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she has been a professor of American Studies for the past 32 years.
Angelou is also known for her presence which was a being tall and regal with a deep, majestic voice. She became one of the very first African-American women to enjoy cross-over, mainstream success as an author. In life, she went from a young single mother who performed at strip clubs to having a career as a writer who ultimately performed what has been called the most popular presidential inaugural poem of all-time. During her lifetime, she wrote a million-selling memoir and befriended such persons as Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As an actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s, she performed around the world. She became a famous writer with having written “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” which became popular in 1970. She also read another poem, “Amazing Peace” at the 2005 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House before former President George W. Bush, according to the New York Times.
Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis St. Louis and was raised in Stamps, Arkansas and San Francisco – moving back and forth between her parents and her grandmother. She renamed herself Maya Angelou for the stage as Maya was a childhood nickname.
In current times, besides teaching American Studies at Wake Forest University, she was a member of the Board of Trustees for Bennett College and hosted a weekly satellite radio show for XM’s “Oprah and Friends” channel. She also was still active on the lecture circuit. Additionally, she owned and renovated a townhouse in Harlem.