On Wednesday morning, 86-year-old writer and American icon Maya Angelou passed away. Angelou was a memoirist and poet who grew up in the Jim Crow South and survived childhood sexual abuse. She overcame these hardships with incredible strength of spirit, and went on to lead a creative and fulfilling life, leaving behind a legacy of joyful, empowering work.
Angelou is most known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which has become required reading for many high school and college students. In 1993, Angelou recited a poem at Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and in 2011 President Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. In addition to these honors, Angelou has appeared as a guest on television programs ranging from Sesame Street to The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Angelou will be remembered as an artist and a civil rights activist. In her work and life, Angelou promoted a culture of tolerance, acceptance, and peace. Her work demonstrates the incredible power of language to shape the world we live in.
Angelou’s work has had a deep and lasting impact on our lives. Has her work affected you? We encourage you to share your remembrances and favorite quotes with us in the comments below.
Photo by Talbot Troy