Maya Angelou Maya Angelou

Renowned writer, actress and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died, according to CNN. She was 86.

Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., her publicist said. Her son posted teh following statement on Facebook"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."

Born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis, Angelou held several jobs, including being a manager for prostitutes, a restaurant cook and the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco, before becoming a writer. Much of Angelou's later auto-biographies recounted tragedies she overcame as a child. At the age of seven she was raped by her mother's boyfriend who was then killed by a mob after she testified against him. At the age of 17, Angelou gave birth to her son, Clyde, and began waiting tables.

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Angelou later became a dancer and toured Europe with the opera production Porgy and Bess. In 1957, she recorded her first album, Calypso Lady, and then performed in an off-Broadway production. In 1959, she met novelist James O. Killens, who urged her to concentrate on her writing. Her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 to critical acclaim.

Angelou went on to write seven autobiographies, spoke more than six languages and earned over 30 honorary degrees. She also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her collection of poems called Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, a Tony nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away and three Grammys for spoken albums. In 2010, she was awarded the U.S.' highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Obama.

Angelou was married three times, all ending in divorce. Speaking about her only son to longtime friend Oprah Winfrey, Angelou said, "My greatest blessing has been the birth of my son. My next greatest blessing has been my ability to turn people into children of mine."