Friends, Celebrities Remember Maya Angelou’s Iconic Life, Work

Friends, celebrities and politicians took to social media on Wednesday to remember the iconic life and work of legendary poet and best-selling author Maya Angelou.

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Dr. Maya Angelou poses with Oprah Winfrey in this undated photo. (Credit: Harpo via CNN)

Angelou — a novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist — died Wednesday morning at the age of 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, her agent told CNN.

Angelou’s family left the following message on her website: “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.”

Angelou’s life was marked with numerous unforgettable highlights, including an honor from President Barack Obama in 2011, when she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman,” Obama said in a statement on Angelou’s death.

Former President Bill Clinton also spoke out on her passing.

“America has lost a national treasure; and Hillary and I, a beloved friend. The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace,” the statement read.

Angelou may best be known for her poetry and one of her most praised books, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” but her remarkable life also included achievements on the big and small screen.

Upon hearing of her passing, famed producer Quincy Jones called Angelou his “sister of 46 years.”

Oprah Winfrey thanked Angelou for the impact she had on her career and life: “I’ve been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20’s. She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ is one of my best lessons from her.

“She won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”

During the 1960s, not long after the assassination of her friend and activist, Malcolm X, Angelou moved to Los Angeles to focus on her writing career.

Angelou has been featured in a popular exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and had a local high school named after her.

Touching countless lives through the years, Angelou’s final tweet contained a poignant message to her hundreds of thousands of followers: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

KTLA’s Kareen Wynter contributed to this report.


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