American poet and writer Maya Angelou shown on Dec. 15, 1992.
Maya Angelou, the American poet and author, died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday. She was 86.

The prolific African-American writer provided eloquent commentary on race, gender and living fully. She penned more than 30 books, such as “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” She won numerous awards and was honored last year by the National Book Awards for her service to the literary community, Reuters reported. In 2011, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. She read a poem at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, in 1993.
 
Angelou was to have been honored Friday in Houston at Major League Baseball’s Beacon Awards Luncheon, before the annual Civil Rights game, but had declined last week, citing health reasons.    
 
A Facebook post attributed to her son, Guy B. Johnson, said Angelou “passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST.
“Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension,” the post continued. “She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
 
The executive director of the National Book Foundation, Harold Augenbraum, described her as “an extraordinary symbol in the United States of what can be accomplished using the arts."
"She was beyond simply being a writer of autobiography and poetry,” Augenbraum told Reuters. He said Angelou used "writing as a transcendence medium to further the individual."
The 1969 publication of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" brought her wide acclaim. The coming-of-age story, set in the American South, grappled with issues such as racism and rape.
 
Angelou\’s work again found a vast audience when she read “On the Pulse of the Morning” at Clinton’s first inauguration, in 1993. While she supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, she reveled in the election of the nation’s first black president. In 2011, Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2013, she received an honorary National Book Award.
A prolific writer, Angelou produced numerous essays, memoirs, screenplays, children’s books, cookbooks, but she is best known for “Caged Bird,” “Still I Rise, “Letter to My Daughter” and “Still I Rise.” Her latest work "Mom & Me & Mom," about her mother and grandmother and what they taught her, was released last year.
Source: VOA and agencies

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