Memoirist–poet–civil rights activist–mother–Medal of Freedom honoree Maya Angelou died on Wednesday, May 28. The New York Times calls Angelou “a lyrical witness of the Jim Crow South”; her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (and the five following memoirs), shocked the nation’s conscience with its rendering of the life of an African-American woman in the mid-twentieth century.

The Times’ announcement notes,

Long before [the day in 1993 when she delivered the inaugural poem at President Clinton’s swearing-in] she had already been a dancer, calypso singer, streetcar conductor, single mother, magazine editor in Cairo, administrative assistant in Ghana, official of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and friend or associate of some of the most eminent black Americans of the mid-20th century, including James Baldwin, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Read more about her life: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/arts/maya-angelou-lyrical-witness-of-the-jim-crow-south-dies-at-86.html

Related: “The Lighter Side of Maya Angelou

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  • marcia cross-briscoe May 29, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Maya Angelou’s writing inspired me to want to be a writer. Also, she seemed like an ordinary person, even in her celebrity. I’ve seen her line dance with a small group and heard her speak before large audiences. Her writings gave me hope and emphasized a belief that each day you should live your life well, each day is an opportunity to spread some love.