So sad. Dr. Maya Angelou, one of the true voices of American poetry, passed away in her home on May 27, where she was recovering from an illness. She was 86 years old.
Maya Angelou, an American poet laureate and one of the most influential voices in the Civil Rights Movement, died on the night of May 27 at the age of 86. The legendary poet and writer was recovering from a mystery illness in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after canceling an appearance at the MLB Beacon Awards four days earlier.
Maya Angelou Dies At 86
Maya’s death was confirmed on May 28 by two independent sources, according to WXII. No immediate cause of death has been announced, but Maya had been in frail health and had had heart problems, her literary agent Helen Brann told the New York Times.
On May 23, Maya cancelled her appearance at the MLB Beacon Awards, where she was scheduled to be honored. She explained that her doctors had advised her not to travel in an apologetic Facebook post:
An unexpected medical emergency caused me the greatest disappointment of having to cancel my visit to the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game ceremony. I am so proud to be selected as its honoree. However, my doctors told me it would be unadvisable for me to travel at that time. My thanks to Robin Roberts for speaking up for me and thank you for all your prayers. I am each day better.
Maya Angelou’s Influence Will Live On
Maya is one of the most meaningful, influential, and wise figures in modern American literature and poetry. Her controversial autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings served as both an eye-opener and rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement, and her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” made her the first woman and first black person to read a poem at a president’s inauguration when she first read it at President Bill Clinton‘s 1993 inauguration.
Other poems like “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” spoke on empowerment to women and the African-American race in ways not many others could. She was also known for her wisdom and her many sage quotes. The woman who was Oprah‘s mentor famously said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude,” as well as, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
President Obama presented Maya with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and in all was given over 30 honorary degrees in her lifetime.
It is so sad to see a legend like her pass on, but she will live on forever thanks to her conscience-shifting work. Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family in this difficult time.
WATCH: Maya Angelou’s “On The Pulse Of Morning”
— Andrew Gruttadaro