Poet, writer, and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou died Wednesday in Winston-Salem, according to a statement from Wake Forest University. Angelou had been forced to cancel several recent events as a result of health problems; she was 86 years old.
Known for her poetry and autobiographies — including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her breakthrough 1969 memoir — Angelou was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, Tony and Emmy awards (she won three Grammys), and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 (among many other honors). She worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. In addition her work as a writer, Angelou was also a singer, dancer, director, producer, and mentor (to Oprah and others); she served as a professor at Wake Forest University for over 30 years.
Here is Maya Angelou reading “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 Inauguration: