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'Phenomenal Woman': Inspirational poet Maya Angelou dies at the age of 86

There are no words, but at the same time there are many words for a poet who has inspired many. Today, the world lost a friend in Maya Angelou who died at the age of 86 in her hometown of Winston-Salem. According to Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, Angelou’s caregiver found her dead in her home early Wednesday morning.

Maya Angelou speaks during the AARP Magazine's 2011 Inspire Awards at Ronald Reagan Building on December 9, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

Angelou was influential as well as inspiring with her words. She was such an impact on modern day literature as her passion and strength shined through in every motivational tone of her voice. Angelou was best known for the first of her six memoirs, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” but will always be recognized for the “Phenomenal Woman” that she was and will continue to be.

The legendary poet was also a professor, singer and dancer who was awarded with the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama back in 2011. Overall, Angelou has more than 30 honorary degrees and was often referred to as Dr. Angelou although she never went to college. But the degree of life applied to the award-winning author. Her knowledge, wisdom and ability to relate the human experience with the perfect words became her profession. She was an expert of life.

Angelou became a writer after a childhood tragedy stole her voice and stunned her into silence. As a child who was raped, Angelou found a louder voice that made her such an inspiration to woman and all who inspired to “rise.” And there are so many quotes Angelou leaves upon the world. One quote defines her life. Angelou once said, “I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine…before she realizes she’s reading.” Angelou was born April 4, 1928. On May 28, 2014 she has risen.

‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
 With your bitter, twisted lies,
 You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
 With the certainty of tides,
 Just like hopes springing high,
 Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
 Bowed head and lowered eyes?
 Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
 Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
 ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
 Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
 You may cut me with your eyes,
 You may kill me with your hatefulness,
 But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
 That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
 At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame 
I rise 
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain 
I rise 
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
 Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
 I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, 
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
 I rise
I rise
 I rise.

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