(Reuters/Gary Hershorn)

Literary icon Maya Angelou dead at 86

The civil rights activist, poet and novelist will be remembered as a pioneer

Prachi Gupta
May 28, 2014 5:23PM (UTC)

Award-winning writer, poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou has died, according to a report from North Carolina's Fox 8 WBGH. Angelou was 86.

She was reportedly found dead in her home by her caretaker on Wednesday morning. The writer had been having health problems lately: On Friday, Angelou canceled an appearance at the May 30th MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon in Houston, citing "health reasons." She was to be honored with the Beacon of Life Award. The AP reports that Angelou also canceled an event last month in Arkansas "because she was recovering from an 'unexpected ailment.'"


Angelou never went to college, but she was honored with more than 30 degrees and served as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, where she had taught since 1982. In popular culture, Angelou was perhaps best known for her autobiographies, including the critically-acclaimed, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Angelou, also a renowned poet, recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration in 1993.

The literary icon was also a performer, however, and was the first black female director of a major motion picture in 1998; she was the first black woman to have an original script produced into film, in 1972. She will be remembered as a pioneer, a legendary writer and a civil rights icon.

Maya Angelou: 1928-2014

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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