A legend, activist and poet of epic proportions has just died. Maya Angelou has passed away at age 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Caroling. The announcement came early Wednesday from her literary agent, Helen Brahn. Dr. Angelou is survived by her son, Guy Johnson, whom she birthed at the age of 17.
Maya’s life has been laden with accomplishments that have been in the forefront of the civil right’s movement, including her most famous book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” being the first autobiography written by a black woman in the 20th century to reach the mass acclaim that it did.
The cause of death is currently unknown, although Helen Brahn did confirm that Dr. Angelou had been in a fragile state of health for a while. Maya Angelou was an intellectual mind whose every word flowed with the grace of poetry. It is no wonder that nearly everything she said inspired people in ways that have saved people’s lives. Revealing her tortured past growing up as a black female in the Jim Crow south, as well as being raped at the age of 7 has allowed people to come to grips with their own pasts.
Angelou was a master of all arts, having studied dance and drama in her early years. Maya’s acting chops can be seen in the 1957 mobster musical, “Calypso Heat Wave”, where she sang and danced her own compositions from the album “Miss Calypso.” Back in 1954 and 1955, Angelou toured over 22 countries performing as a part of the opera Porgy and Bess presented by the Everyman Opera Company.
Dr. Angelou went on to take up writing and ultimately published seven memoirs and several books of poetry, one of which included her most iconic poem “Phenomenal Woman.” Angelou returned to acting in 1976, when she appeared on Broadway in a two-person minimalistic play called “Look Away.” It was this performance that led Maya Angelou to be nominated for a Tony Award. She also appeared in Roots as Kunta Kinte’s grandmother.
Maya Angelou has inspired generations of writers, thinkers, feminists and intellectuals of all colors and cultural backgrounds. “I learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” she said.