Some very unfortunate news this morning. Renowned author, poet, playwright, activist, actress and educator, Maya Angelou, has died.
Angelou’s body was discovered in her North Carolina home, this morning, her agent, Helen Brann, has confirmed.
Best known for some of her more famous works including book and autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing,” and poems “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise,” Angelou’s life, work and words has served as an inspiration to women, and men, all around the world. She was even awarded, by President Barack Obama, with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, in 2011.
She spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco, but dropped out at age 14, instead becoming the city’s first African-American female cable car conductor.
Angelou later returned to high school to finish her diploma and gave birth a few weeks after graduation. While the 17-year-old single mother waited tables to support her son, she acquired a passion for music and dance, and toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.” In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Calypso Lady.”
In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and also played a queen in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.
Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
“I created myself,” she has said. “I have taught myself so much.”
Angelou born, Marguerite Johnson, in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928, was inspired to write after experiencing a childhood tragedy. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of 7. He was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him.
“My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,” she said.
During her time of silence she found solace in writing.
Angelou also worked during the Civil Rights movement alongside civil rights leader and friend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was assassinated on her birthday.
She is survived by her only child and son, Guy, one grandchild and two great-grand children.
The above is one of my favorite quotes by Angelou. May she rest in peace.