The world is stunned with the announced passing of award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou. She was found lifeless in her Winston-Salem, N.C., home early Wednesday morning (May 28). Angelou, who raised to prominence in the public eye for her first book, her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, built her way up from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a cultural icon. Caged Bird made her one of the first African-American women to pen a national best-seller, and she didn’t stop there.
She would go on to be a singer and a dancer, studying in San Francisco during her early years. She’d later drop out at age 14, choosing instead to become the city’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She met Malcolm X, helped to fight for Civil Rights, and President Barack Obama awarded her with the country’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, in 2011.
An integral member of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York, the woman affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, never went to college. “I created myself,” she was quoted saying. “I have taught myself so much.” Her distinguished nature and commanding presence as resulted in more than 30 honorary degrees and stints at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
Her fiery, yet poetic rhetoric endeared her to a crop of conscious MC’s such as Common, Talib Kweli, and Kanye West. She appeared on Com’s The Dreamer, The Beliver album in a guest featured appearance, and she lauded the culture as being “full of poets”.
As the sun has set on this Phenomenal Woman, celebrities of all shades and successes took to Twitter to share their reactions to the new of Dr. Maya Angelou’s passing.