Renowned U.S. poet, novelist & actress Maya Angelou dead at 86

Maya Angelou, renowned as a poet, novelist and actress, died this morning at age 86 at her North Carolina home, her literary agent said.

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "I created myself," she once said. "I have taught myself so much."

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “I created myself,” she once said. “I have taught myself so much.”

Per above, Amiri Baraka and Dr Angelou were attending a tribute to the late Langston Hughes in 1991 when photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. snapped the image. The caption, published in the New York Times, described Angelou and Baraka as performing an “African Custom of ancestral return.

Angelou was set to receive the Beacon of Life Award at the 2014 MLB Beacon Award Luncheon on May 30 in Houston, however she canceled her appearance citing “health reasons” as the cause.

As a celebrated novelist, poet, educator, actress and activist, Angelou has been hailed as one of the most influential voices of the 20th and 21st century.

The writer’s voice was born from a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for almost a decade. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him. “My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,” she said.

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