Thursday, May 28, 2014
Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:
Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.
Guy B. Johnson

This world lost one of it's very finest voices today.  Maya Angelou (Marguerite Johnson) age 86. Maya was one of my most important and influential hero's in my life.  She was an incredible human being. Gender and color be damned, Maya was brilliant and when I first learned about her work in 1979 she was not well to the American population. A forward thinking teacher (Kathleen Steele) I had in college gave me her first autobiography.. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".

Maya's life is an amazing story. Her self absorbed mother Vivian, left her with her strong willed grandmother in Stamps Arkansas to live in the big city. Maya struggled to fit in as a child.  She was quite tall and felt gangly.

Maya had a vast and varied career, holding jobs such as fry cook, dancer, actress, poet, educator, and brothel madam. In the late 1950s, she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, where she met a number of important African-American authors, including her friend and mentor James Baldwin

She struggled with segregation and racism. Through out her young life, Maya didn't fall victim to hate and self loathing.

Writing all through her life and at age 40 "Caged Bird" became a best seller in 1969. It remained on the list for 2 years. This book was part one of what was to become a 7 part autobiographical series..I have read them all...How Maya never lost hope or faith in her early life was so very inspirational to me as a young girl. Maya was a strong woman, smart, determined and yet forgiving of those who wished ill upon her. Her forgiving nature is what impressed me the most.

Maya was chosen to recite her poem for the Clinton Inauguration and from then she became a very famous star.

After I finished reading her first book, I scrambled to read all of her other books that were released at the time (1980). I talked of nothing but Maya for quite a long time.  Then a few years later, my Mom called to tell me that Maya was on PBS that night. I finally got to see her speak on television and I was mesmerized.  She spoke exactly the way she wrote. Words and images flowed from her voice just as they did from her typewriter.

I wrote my very first fan letter in 1982 to Ms Angelou and mailed it to her at Wake Forest University..Sometime later, I received a charming reply from Maya. Sadly I didn't save the letters. But I will always remember how she inspired this young girl with her courage in the face of adversity. She absolutely changed this world for the better and I will never forget her. xoK

I highly recommend her books for anyone struggling with life...

Dr. Maya Angelou was born to Vivian Baxter and Bailey Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She passed to her Heavenly Reward quietly on May 28, 2014 in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is survived by her son, daughter-in-law, two grandsons and two great-grandchildren, a nephew, a niece, grandnieces, great-grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnephews and a host of beloveds.

From the time she was a child, Dr. Angelou proved that she was a unique individual with amazing commitment and focus. The birth of her son when she was seventeen did not prevent her from continuing in pursuit of her dreams for a creative career. From her start as a singer in San Francisco’s Purple Onion and Hungry I in 1953 to the installation of her portrait in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2014, she was continuously on a dramatic, musical or political stage.

She was a dancer, a singer, an actress, a poet, a writer, a magazine editor, a playwright, a film director as well as a college lecturer, full Professor and a fearless, outspoken activist. She never let her various vocations inhibit her activism or her willingness to speak out against injustice and inequality. She performed in a number of major productions. She was in both the 1954 International Touring Company and the subsequent movie of Porgy and Bess. She was also in the 1977 television series of Alex Haley’s Roots and in the 1995 film How to make an American Quilt. She was in too many other productions to name. She directed the films Georgia, Georgia and Down in the Delta.

Her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1970. She went on to write thirty-three other books including autobiographies, poetry and essays. A number of her works were best sellers and were published in number of languages.

Throughout her life Dr. Angelou’s activism never flagged or waned. In 1959, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she headed the New York office of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Next, she worked for the Arab Observer News Magazine in Cairo, Egypt, which was the premiere English language magazine in the Middle East. Later she moved to Ghana and met Malcolm X.

She returned to the United States to work for him, but he was assassinated four days after her arrival in New York. She continued to be voice of humanity, speaking out against anything that fettered the human spirit. Her life and her body of literary work trumpet the importance of love, tolerance and forgiveness. She was a warrior for truth, justice and love.

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