Maya Angelou Dead at 86

Celebrated American author and poet Maya Angelou died on Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, her family said in a statement. She was 86.
Her cause of death was not immediately known. Citing "health reasons" less than a week ago, Angelou backed out of the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards luncheon, where she was to be honored for her part in the civil rights movement. Angelou was also hospitalized last month.
Her last tweet was on May 23:

Angelou's family released a statement on Facebook on Wednesday morning:
Angelou was the author of 30 books, including her most popular novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." She was also credited with a list of plays and movies, and was Hollywood's first female African-American director. She was one of the most honored writers of her generation. Some of her biggest awards included the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.

Born in St. Louis on April 4, 1928, she moved to San Francisco to study dance, but she dropped out of school at age 14 and become the city's youngest African-American cable car conductor. She briefly lived in Ghana, where she met Malcolm X and jumpstarted her involvement in the civil rights movement, eventually working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. She went on to serve on two presidential committees.
Angelou famously recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

Among her most famous works is her poem "Phenomenal Woman," which she reads in the video below from 2013:

In an interview with TIME last year, Angelou answered 10 questions, ranging from her unusual relationship with her mother to her love of guns. Her answers truly reveal the candid personality for which she was famous.

Angelou served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, where a campus memorial service will be held. The school released a statement on Wednesday morning, calling Angelou a "national treasure."

"[Her] life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest [...] Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Angelou’s family and friends during this difficult time."

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