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Maya Angelou dies

May 28, 2014

Author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died aged 86, the university in North Carolina where she taught has said. She was one of the first African-American women to find mainstream success as an author.

Maya Angelou
Image: Reuters

"Today members of the Wake Forest University community mourn the loss of beloved poet, author, actress, civil rights activists and professor, Dr. Maya Angelou," the institution said in a statement on Wednesday.

Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was a professor of American studies at Wake Forest.

Angelou's famous poems and memoirs, such as "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," were acclaimed for their eloquent commentary on race, gender and life. She wrote more than 30 books during her career and won a Grammy award for three spoken-word albums.

In 1993 she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to read a poem at his first inauguration. She wrote and read an original composition for the occasion, "On the Pulse of Morning," which went on to sell millions of copies.

She directed the 1998 film "Down in the Delta" about a drug-wrecked woman who returns to her ancestors' home in the Mississippi Delta.

Tributes are flowing around the world for Angelou. US President Barack Obama said her writing had inspired his mother to name his sister Maya.

He and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, said they joined "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," said a White House statement.

"Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things ... but above all, she was a storyteller - and her greatest stories were true."

dr/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)