Phenomenal woman, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died on Wednesday, 27 May, she was 86.
Aunty Maya (in my head, she’s always been my aunty) rose from a childhood of poverty in Arkansas to become an American literary icon. She became one of the first black women to write a best seller when her 1970 autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was published.
Born in 1928 as Marguerite Johnson, Aunty Maya led many lives proving she was indeed the phenomenal woman she wrote about. She drove a streetcar in San Francisco, was a newspaper editor in Egypt and worked as a cook and a prostitute when she was a destitute single mother. She wrote television and movie screenplays, performed on the stage as a singer, dancer and actor and released an album of Calypso music.
But Ms Angelou will be remembered above all as the “people’s poet,” a towering public figure and literary icon whose words seem to appear everywhere; spoken at a presidential inauguration, stamped on Hallmark greeting cards and regularly used as status on social media.
Aunty Maya was busy writing and planning public appearances in her final days. She was scheduled to receive an award in Houston on Friday but cancelled her appearance giving a health emergency as the reason.
A statement from Maya Angelou’s Family appeared on Facebook on Thursday and reads:
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 Power Aunty Maya