By Jessica Glenza, Guardian
Maya Angelou, renowned poet and author, died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday. She was 86.
“Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension,” said her son Guy B. Johnson in a statement.< p>”She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being,” he said. “She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her, and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”
Johnson said Angelou “passed quietly in her home” sometime before 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Bill Clinton, at whose inauguration Angelou read her “On the Pulse of the Morning,” said in a statement: “America has lost a national treasure, and Hillary and I, a beloved friend.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee also released a statement. “I am deeply saddened by the passing of a phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou. Her vast body of work which spans over six decades as a dancer, actress, author, and activist, has stood the test of time.
“As a leader in the civil rights movement, a poet laureate, a college professor, a Broadway actress, and the first female African American cable car conductor in San Francisco, Maya Angelou was the spirit and conscience of generations.
“Her example of grace, class and humility will continue to inspire young women to define themselves through a lens of self-love, humanitarianism and how they use their gifts to change the world.”
Angelou’s failing health was reported as recently as Tuesday, when she canceled an appearance honoring her with a Beacon of Life Award because of “health reasons”. The ceremony was part of the 2014 MLB Beacon Award Luncheon, in Houston, Texas, part of Major League Baseball’s Civil Rights Games.
Last month, forced to cancel an appearance at a library in Arkansas, she wrote: “An unexpected ailment put me into the hospital. I will be getting better, and the time will come when I can receive another invitation from my state, and you will recognize me for I shall be the tall Black lady smiling. I ask you to please keep me in your thoughts, in your conversation and in your prayers.”
Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson, in St Louis, Missouri, in 1928.