Dr. Maya Angelou speaks at Congregation B nai Israel on January 16, 2014 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)
Maya Angelou, pioneering African-American poet, author, and activist, died on Wednesday morning at her North Carolina home, her family said. She was 86.
In a statement, President Barack Obama called Angelou "one the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman.
"Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things — an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer," the president said. "But above all, she was a storyteller — and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking — but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. "
Oprah Winfrey released a statement remembering her friend:
"I've been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20s. 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.”
News of Angelou's death spread quickly on Twitter, where users, including Obama, posted some of their favorite quotes from her books, poems, and film and television appearances.
"Nothing can dim the light which shines from within." —Maya Angelou pic.twitter.com/oR11k7rwxk— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 28, 2014
“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” Rest in peace, Dr.Maya Angelou http://t.co/haOcGRBlMO— Alicia Menendez (@AliciaMenendez) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou said, "when you get, give and when you learn, teach." And then she said, "Peace." Words to live by.— Tony Danza (@TonyDanza) May 28, 2014
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” -- Dr. Angelou— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) May 28, 2014
"Just like suns and like moons, with the certainty of tides, just like hope springing high, still I rise." #MayaAngelou— NPR's Tell Me More (@TellMeMoreNPR) May 28, 2014
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” #MayaAngelou— GlobalOnenessProject (@goproject) May 28, 2014
We're saddened by the passing of our friend Maya Angelou. Thank you for all you've done, and for all the hugs. pic.twitter.com/kmLCN59Uef— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) May 28, 2014
“I’ve learned that no matter ... how bad it seems today that life goes on, and it will be better tomorrow. This I am certain,” #MayaAngelou— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) May 28, 2014
"People will forget what u said, people will forget what u did, but people will never forget how u made them feel" RIP #MayaAngelou— Danielle Trotta (@DanielleTrotta) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou's Poem "On the Pulse of Morning" -- 1993 Presidential Inauguration: http://t.co/n2LfHEMD61— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) May 28, 2014
"Now you understand Just why my head's not bowed. I don't shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud." #MayaAngelou— Tanzina Vega (@tanzinavega) May 28, 2014
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." R.I.P #MayaAngelou— PAMELA SILVA CONDE (@PAMELASILVA) May 28, 2014
“The great art belongs to all people, all the time--that indeed it is made for the people, by the people, to the people.” -#MayaAngelou— Signature Theatre (@SignatureTheatr) May 28, 2014
Others simply retweeted Angelou's final tweet, published on May 23.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) May 23, 2014