Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, author, dancer and civil rights activist. She is recognized as one of the greatest writers ever. Her first book published in 1969, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international acclaim. The memoir received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

As an incredibly talented artist,  Angelou was also a director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. She was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X She was named the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In 1993, her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” recited at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, was the first  poem to be recited at a presidential inauguration since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961

Maya Angelou’s other volumes include “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie” (1971), “Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well” (1975), “And Still I Rise” (1978) and “Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?” (1983).

Angelou died on the morning of May 28, 2014

Remarking on Angelou’s Oprah Winfrey said, “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. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me,” she recalled. “I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”