Legendary Author Maya Angelou Dies At 86

mayaangelouMaya Angelou, legendary writer, poet, novelist, and actress, has died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this morning. Her literary agent, Helen Brann, confirmed the news shortly after, noting that “she’d been very frail and had heart problems.” She was 86.

Brann also confirmed that Angelou was “in good spirits” and had just finished a book.

CNN remembers the icon in a beautiful obit:

Her list of friends is as impressive as her illustrious career. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey referred to her as “sister friend.” She counted Martin Luther King Jr., with whom she worked during the Civil Rights movement, among her friends. King was assassinated on her birthday.

Angelou spoke at least six languages, and worked at one time as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. During that period, she wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” launching the first in a series of autobiographical books.

“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 said.

She was also one of the first black women film directors. Her work on Broadway has been nominated for Tony Awards.

Before making it big, the 6-foot-tall wordsmith also worked as a cook and sang with a traveling road show. “Look where we’ve all come from … coming out of darkness, moving toward the light,” she once said. “It is a long journey, but a sweet one, bittersweet.”

As an activist for the LGBT community, Angelou joined a number of celebrities in 2009 in lobbying the New York state Senate for marriage equality. It was reported that she personally placed three phone calls to state senators, urging them to pass marriage equality in “a matter of fairness.”

“To love someone takes a lot of courage,” she said. “So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?”

Rest in peace, Miss Angelou. Our condolences to her family and all those touched by her legacy.

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  • 1EqualityUSA

    Every book this woman has ever written has been a life altering experience. She is a pure writer with love at her core. What an American treasure. We are so lucky to have her work living on.


    Thank you for everything. Your humanity, warmth and positivity will continue to radiate out. You made a difference.

  • thenameismatt

    I love Dr. Maya Angelou’s work. I recommend Letter to my Daughter in the audiobook form to anyone who wants to experience great samples of her writing and voice.

  • Black Pegasus

    “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

    – Maya Angelou

  • 1EqualityUSA

    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.
    (Dr. Maya Angelou)

  • Charlie in Charge

    I have always adored this quote of hers: “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

  • B Damion


    What a blessing she has been to us. She was a gift. R.I.P Dr.Angelou. R.I.P.

  • Polaro

    What a fabulous woman. Perfect. I will miss her grace.

  • Sebizzar

    Nooooooo :(
    She’s one of those people you wish could live well past 100. 86 is a long life though, and most importantly she was happy. It’s great to know she will rest in peace! An extraordinary woman she was.

    Some of my favorite quotes from her (she has many):

    “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

  • Blackceo

    Legend, icon, hero, genius….just so many superlatives to describe the amazing Dr. Angelou. I knew it was coming but still doesn’t soften the blow. R.I.P. to this amazing woman!!

  • Kangol

    Dr. Angelou, thank you so much for your work. May the gods and goddesses bless and embrace your spirit and may you rest in peace!

  • Mezaien

    Mrs. Maya, you are a big huge magic! I will never forget you MOM love AdamHomo

  • JennyFromdabloc

    Thank you, Dr. Angelou. Wishing you a peaceful journey. XO

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