Wednesday, May 28, 2014

R.I.P.: Dr. Maya Angelou Dies At 86

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The legend, icon and woman of the most eloquent words we have heard in our lifetime, has died.  Dr. Maya Angelouhas passed away at 86, as confirmed by the mayor of her home Winston-Salem, NC and her publicist.

More inside.

Dr. Maya Angelou, who has reportedly battled health problems recently, has died.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a hearse with a police escort pulled away from her North Carolina home about 9 a.m. this morning.  The city's mayor, Allen Joines, and her publicist both confirmed that Dr. Angelou was found by her caretaker early this morning. 
She had to cancel her appearance at the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon in Houston that was scheduled for this past Friday, where she was receiving an award.
The legendary poet, activist, civil rights leader, film director, teacher, and former singer & dancer has an 18-room house in Winston-Salem, as well as two town houses in Harlem.  She was most recently serving as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.
The story of Dr. Angelou will always be a grand and legendary one. 
The Phenomenal Woman was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928.  As for how she came to Maya Angelou: Her older brother Bailey gave her the nickname Maya. She adopted the last name of Angelou during the early 1950s when she began performing as a dancer and singer. The name was a variation on her first husband’s, Tosh Angelos’, surname.
We would be here for weeks if we listed the accomplishments of Dr. Angelou.  But some noteworthy notations: She has 50 honorary degrees, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, several Tony Award nominations, a Grammy Award for Spoken Word, admiration from our world leaders and several other accolades during her lifetime.
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The author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Phenomenal Woman, as well as spoken word artist of Sojourner Truth's Aint I A Woman, spoke for human beings, especially black women, in a way no one could ever replicate.  Our global icons such as First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have continuously shown their overwhelming admiration for the poet, who instilled a sense of pride and empowerment in those who listened to her words.
We thank Dr. Angelou for being our voice of truth, for making US feel beautiful while the world tells us (and even told her) we are not, and for staying strong in the struggle & triumphs of race and gender equality with the utmost grace. 
Her contributions were the epitome of necessary, and will undoubtedly live on as she has made an undeniable imprint on our culture.
R.I.P. Dr. Angelou.