Remembering Maya Angelou
Born in 1928 in Missouri and raised in Arkansas, Maya Angelou died May 28, 2014 after a lifetime of witnessing and documenting the social and political upheaval that swept through not just the Jim Crow South but across the world, with a literary voice so distinct and pure it was sometimes parodied but impossible to imitate. Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969 at the end of a troubled decade, during which she had devoted herself to helping liberate black Americans and watched close friends and admired colleagues cut down by assassins.
Angelou had an unparalleled ability to inspire those around her and drew some of the most significant Americans of the 20th century into her orbit. She was pals with writers like James Baldwin and Rosa Guy, musicians like Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, and had the confidence and admiration of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and revolutionaries like Malcolm X. Angelou was the epitome of the kind of activist, like Harry Belafonte or Paul Robeson, whose life was dedicated to both art and advocacy.
Angelou’s memorial service was held Saturday at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey attended.