Remembering Maya Angelou

  • Maya Angelou, pictured Aug. 6, 2013.
  • Maya Angelou poses for a portrait during an interview in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 1974.
  • American poet and singer Maya Angelou wears a red dress while dancing next to a fire in a promotional portrait taken for the cover of her album, 'Miss Calypso,' 1957.
  • Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou dance on the 89th birthday of the poet Langston Hughes at the The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where Hughes' ashes were buried beneath the floor, Feb. 22, 1991, in New York, N.Y.
  • Poet and dancer Maya Angelou poses for a portrait circa 1950.
  • Author and poet Maya Angelou, pictured in 1974.
  • President Barack Obama kisses Maya Angelou, a prominent and celebrated author, poet, educator, producer, actress, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, after presenting to her the 2010 Medal of Freedom on Feb. 15, 2011 at the White House. The Medal of Freedom is the America'€™s highest civilian honor and is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
  • American author and poet Maya Angelou reciting in London in the late 1980's.
  • Maya Angelou gestures while speaking in a chair during an interview at her home, April 8, 1978.
  • Maya Angelou reads a poem during the inauguration of Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 1993.
  • Maya Angelou, pictured in 1974.
  • Photo of Maya Angelou, circa 1970.
  • Author and poet Maya Angelou pictured in 1974.



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.

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