One of the most important figures of American literature and civil rights activism, Maya Angelou, has died at the age of 86. She was best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, a work of autobiographical fiction that documents how her strong character and sense of will overcame racism and childhood abuse.
The news of her death was confirmed by Allen Joines, the mayor of her home town of Winstom-Salem, North Carolina. Joines remarked that he was "very sad of her passing." She was reportedly found dead by her caretaker and had recently suffered health problems that had forced her to cancel readings.
Angelou was a poet as well as a novelist, and she read her poem "On The Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. She wasn't just a writer, either – she was an instrumental figure in the civil rights movement who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for her decades-spanning contribution to literature and civil society.
Fittingly, people all over are paying tribute to Angelou by tweeting quotes from her much-respected career as a public speaker and author:
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope". ~Maya Angelou”— LeAnn Rimes Cibrian (@leannrimes) May 28, 2014
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”― Maya Angelou— $trong&BraveKing (@DryCleanOnly21) May 28, 2014
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) May 28, 2014
'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' RIP Maya Angelou— picadorbooks (@picadorbooks) May 28, 2014
Watch Maya Angelou read "On The Pulse of Morning" at Clinton's inauguration here:
Farewell, Maya. You'll be missed.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot