Maya Angelou, an award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist, has died in her hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86.
According to the city's mayor, Allen Joines, Maya was found by her caretaker on Wednesday morning (May 28). She had recently canceled an appearance, citing her health as the reason for her absence.
"Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension," a statement found on Maya's Facebook page reads.
"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," the statement continued.
Best known for her celebrated autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the African-American writer overcame many obstacles in her youth, including sexual abuse, which she detailed in her work.
Born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Mo., Maya first found success as a singer in the 1950s before receiving accolades for her poetry.
She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her first volume, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971). She also received a Tony nomination for her role in the 1973 play, Look Away, an Emmy nomination for the television mini-series Roots and won three Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums.
In 1993, she was asked by President Bill Clinton to speak at his inauguration, reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning," and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Maya was also an active member of the Civil Rights movement, working with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In 1982, she became a professor at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem where she often spoke of her love for teaching.
She is survived by her only son, Guy, as well as a grandson and two great-grandchildren.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) May 23, 2014