Dr. Maya Angelou, beloved author and poet, has died

She was 86.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Published May 28, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 5:57 am CDT

The literary world has lost another one of the greats. Author and poet Maya Angelou has died in Winston-Salem, N.C., this morning. She was 86.

Angelou was found by her caretaker on Wednesday morning, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines confirmed to WGHP. Reportedly facing health problems, Angelou canceled a recent scheduled appearance at a special event held in her honor.

Most famous for her autobiographical book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou was a novelist, celebrated poet, educator, filmmaker, a professor at Wake Forest University, and a civil rights activist. She influenced generations of writers and creators. She was active in politics even in her later years, supporting Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. She received more than 50 honorary degrees in her lifetime.

She recited “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, making it the first poem to be read since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

Her final tweet offers the sort of wisdom people have known to come from her.

Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.

— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) May 23, 2014

People have been sharing quotes and their memories on Twitter.

We’re saddened by the passing of our friend Maya Angelou. Thank you for all you’ve done, and for all the hugs. pic.twitter.com/kmLCN59Uef

— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) May 28, 2014

I thought I had made it PERFECTLY clear that no one else awesome was allowed to die this year? Quota already exceeded. Damnit, people.

— Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway) May 28, 2014

RIP Maya Angelou. I interviewed her in 2007. She took my face in her hands and said, “You are a sweet and dreamy child.”

— Jeff Elder (@JeffElder) May 28, 2014

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou – who was utterly amazing.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 28, 2014

maya was somehow the most dignified and the most humble and the most intelligent, but then also the flyest. she’s one of one.

— Rembert Browne (@rembert) May 28, 2014

President Obama presents #MayaAngelou with the Medal of Freedom in 2010 https://t.co/oUMv9Vqw5B pic.twitter.com/56Zh8awfMc

— The Baxter Bean (@TheBaxterBean) May 28, 2014

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a truly radical book when it came out in 1969. #MayaAngelou was an ass-kicking revolutionary.

— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) May 28, 2014

Photo via York College ISLGP/Flickr

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*First Published: May 28, 2014, 10:23 am CDT