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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Remembering Maya Angelou
We are saddened to report that the world lost a literary legend today.
Award-winning author, activist, novelist, poet, and professor Dr. Maya Angelou — born Marguerite Johnson — has passed away this morning at the age of 86, her literary agent Helen Brann confirms. According to her family, she died peacefully in her Winston-Salem, North Carolina home and was discovered by her caretaker.
Dr. Angelou grew up in the Jim Crow era and was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a young woman. According to her famous memoir, she worked briefly as a brothel madam and prostitute, before eventually defying the odds and rising to international fame as a writer. She quickly became a voice for women who found hope and strength in her story and comfort in her words. The late poet established her literary reputation with the 1970 autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” and went on to publish nationally acclaimed poems such as “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise.” She also famously delivered the poem “On The Pulse Of Morning” during Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993.
She is one of history’s most celebrated authors who is well known for her literary skills, but has worn many hats including Hollywood director, actress, and Alvin Ailey dancer. Maya also held over 50 honorary degrees, three Grammy awards, and even was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She is survived by her son, Guy Johnson, who took to her Facebook Fan Page to confirm his mother’s passing.
Dr. Maya 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. 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. Guy B. Johnson
Rest in peace to a Phenomenal Woman.
“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that’s rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” ― Maya Angelou