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Image: Dr Maya Angelou

Pop Culture

Maya Angelou - 1928-2014

The American author, poet and activist first touched readers with her coming-of-age autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

Image: Dr Maya Angelou

American legend

Maya Angelou, born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis as Marguerite Annie Johnson, was an author, poet and political activist. She died on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem, N.C., at age 86.
Angelou poses for a photo in London on Sept. 20, 2005.

Graham Jepson
Maya Angelou (b. 1928), began her career as a dancer and writer. 1957 portrait dressed for her part

First step

Angelou began her career as a dancer and writer. She poses in this 1957 photo at the Caribbean Calypso Festival.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Literary sensation

Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was her first book, a coming-of-age autobiography that recounted her childhood and early adult years, including her experience of becoming a teenage mother.

Wf / AP
ROOTS, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, 1977 TV Mini-Series

TV history

Angelou stars with Cicely Tyson in the 1977 television mini-series "Roots." She played Kunta Kinte's grandmother.

Courtesy Everett Collection
Image: Clinton Angelou

Inaugural fame

Newly sworn-in President Bill Clinton reaches out to hug Angelou after she delivered her inaugural poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," on the west steps of the Capitol during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 1993.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Educating in the neighborhood

Angelou makes a 1995 guest appearance on Sesame Street in a skit called, 'A New Way to Walk.'


Civil rights icons

Angelou and Coretta Scott King, left, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speak to the media after visiting Betty Shabazz, the widow of slain civil rights activist Malcom X, at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., on June 2, 1997.

Jon Levy / AFP

Poetry in motion

Angelou speaks to a crowd at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus on Sept. 11, 2000, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Angelou, who spoke on the healing and saving nature of poetry, encouraged the crowd to become the composers of their own lives.


National treasure

President Clinton congratulates Angelou after presenting her with the National Medal of Arts during ceremonies at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 20, 2000.

Stephen Jaffe / AFP
Image: Maya Angelou dies at 86

Talking the talk

Angelou talks with reporters before giving a reading at the Abyssinian Development Corporation's 10th Annual Renaissance Day of Commitment Leadership Breakfast in Harlem, N.Y., on June 15, 2004.

Justin Lane / EPA FILE
Image: File photo of Poet Maya Angelou during second night of Democratic National Convention in Boston

Rallying the delegates

Angelou speaks before delegates during the second night of the 2004 Democratic National Convention at the Fleet Center in Boston on July 27, 2004.

Gary Hershorn / X00129
Image: FILE: Poet Maya Angelou Dies At Age 86 Funeral Held For Coretta Scott King

Farewell to a friend

Angelou speaks during the funeral services for Coretta Scott King at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., on Feb. 7, 2006. King, the wife of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died Jan. 30, 2006, at the age of 78. Seated behind Angelou is President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush.

Pool / Getty Images North America
MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION,  Maya Angelou, Director Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, on set, 2006, ©Lions Gate

Making 'Madea'

Angelou, left, director Tyler Perry and actress Cicely Tyson are seen on the set of "Madea's Family Reunion" in 2006.

©Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Co

Helping another Clinton

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton holds the hand of Angelou during a conversation in front of an audience at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., during a campaign stop on April 18, 2008.

Robyn Beck / AFP
Image: FILE: Poet Maya Angelou Dies At Age 86

A voice for the Voice

Angelou attends the memorial celebration for Odetta Holmes, an American singer, actress and activist, at Riverside Church in New York City on on Feb. 24, 2009. Holmes, called the "Voice of the Civil Rights Movement" died at age 77.

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images North America
Image: Garden Party Celebration For Dr. Maya Angelou's 82nd Birthday

Birthday wishes

Angelou shares a moment with Naomi Judd during a celebration of Angelou's 82nd birthday with friends and family at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 20, 2010.

Steve Exum / Getty Images North America

More presidential praise

President Barack Obama kisses Angelou after presenting her with the 2010 Medal of Freedom at the White House on Feb. 15, 2011.

Tim Sloan / AFP
Image: File photo of Oprah Winfrey with poet Maya Angelou during the taping of Oprah's Surprise Spectacular in Chicago

Friend, mentor

Oprah Winfrey, right, laughs with Angelou during the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular" in Chicago on May 17, 2011. Angelou found something of a spiritual soul mate in Oprah, who she met in the 1970s when the future talk show queen was still a TV anchor.

John Gress / X01637
Image: Maya Angelou, Johnnetta Cole

Portrait of an artist

Angelou talks with Johnnetta Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, at Angelou's portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on April 5, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Paul Morigi / AP Images
Image: File photo of U.S. poet Maya Angelou speaking during a ceremony to honor South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Washington

Honoring the activists

Angelou speaks during a ceremony to honor South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding Award in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 21, 2008.

Jim Young / X90065