Maya Angelou Dead at 86
Famed poet and author had been suffering health problems
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted May 28, 2014 8:45 AM CDT
Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014 in Washington, DC.   (Paul Morigi/AP Images for National Portrait Gallery)

(Newser) – Maya Angelou has died at age 86. The former poet laureate and author's caretaker found her this morning at her home in Winston-Salem, NC, WGHP reports; the town's mayor confirming the news. Angelou's health had been failing recently; last week she cited health reasons in bowing out of an appearance this Friday at which she was to be awarded the MLB Beacon of Life award.

Angelou had a fascinating life. She began writing following a traumatic childhood incident in which she was raped by her mother's boyfriend, who was then beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him, according to CNN. She never went to college, but holds more than 50 honorary degrees. She spoke at least six languages, and once worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana, where she wrote her famous autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. As a prominent member of the Civil Rights movement, she counted Martin Luther King Jr. as a friend; in December, she paid tribute to friend Nelson Mandela. "I created myself," she once said. "I have taught myself so much."

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May 29, 2014 9:26 AM CDT
Her poetry was dull and mediocre. And how was she a positive influence in the black community? Did she go into ghettos and speak to young blacks and told them not to act like savages and learn something, especially manners and civility? Obviously not.
May 28, 2014 9:26 PM CDT
OK I'll play the devils advocate. In Americas guilt and shame for a sin committed 150 years ago she looks for black heroes. Obama is an empty suit. Had Maya been white she would have been found mediocre at best. She and other dreamers found Mandella a hero. Mandella folks was a thug and a murderer. As a member of NAC he was involved with "necklacing" of opponents. That is putting a fuel soaked tire around the victim and lighting it. After aparthied the NAC released the thug. Under his leadership South Africa went from being a world trader to a third world country. Some hero and leader. He was also accused of the spousal abuse of his wife Winnie. Now exactly what sane person especially a woman would find this behavior heroic or worthy of praise. Just to keep honesty it was not black Africans that caused the end of apartheid, It was the white young people of South Africa. It is the black ANC that has failed their people.While I do not condone apartheid the old saying goes "do not fire the cook until you know that the replacement will not poison the stew".
May 28, 2014 2:56 PM CDT
Hey, Newser? " The former poet laureate and author's caretaker found her this morning at her home" What da HELL does THAT mean?