America Mourns Its 'Fierce' Poet
Luminaries lines up to pay homage to Maya Angelou
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2014 1:58 PM CDT
Loading... Please wait

(Newser) – Writer, inaugural poet, storyteller, mentor, civil rights activist, Grammy winner, journalist, streetcar conductor, and even madam—Maya Angelou wore a vast rainbow of hats during her 86 years, and Americans wasted no time today in paying homage to the fiercely eloquent force of nature. Without ado:

  • President Obama: Citing "a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman," Obama noted that his own sister is named for the poet, who "above all, was a storyteller—and her greatest stories were true. The voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves."

  • President Clinton: "America has lost a national treasure; and Hillary and I, a beloved friend. I will always be grateful. The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace."
  • Oprah Winfrey: "I've been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my twenties. 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 moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds."
  • Over at Slate, Dee Lockett reminds us that "Angelou’s talents extended well beyond the written and spoken word." In the '50s, Angelou was an aspiring singer and dancer who eventually recorded an album, Miss Calypso, which in turn inspired her first film, Calypso Heat Wave.
  • At Salon, Laura Miller lauds Angelou as "the voice of America," a poet who even had a line of Hallmark cards for which she was mocked, "but the public adored her and found in her words both wisdom and comfort. Angelou’s is a style that lends itself well to the realm of social media, with its informal habit of sharing and passing along quotations and mottos."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
America Mourns Its 'Fierce' Poet is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 7 comments
May 29, 2014 11:31 AM CDT
Never heard of her. Understand she was Malcolm X's right hand at one time. If so, then she was also a racist and hate monger. Good riddance.
May 29, 2014 9:10 AM CDT
She seemed to be a nice lady until one day in the early '90's she was on a TV talk show and with a pickle faced expression made a comment that a "young black man has no opportunity in America today". I was like "Huh?, wait, what?" 30 years after "we-shall-overcome-days" and billions thrown at them and failure after failure and refusal of blacks to learn something and act civilized, she comes out with that sh*t? Yeah, she sure showed who she was. Her "poetry" was meh. No great loss.
May 29, 2014 6:44 AM CDT
"When people show you who they are, believe them." One of many favorite quotes I'll remember. Rest in peace, Maya Angelou.