Poet, author Maya Angelou dies at 86

May 28, 2014

The Associated Press

(Paul Morigi/AP)
Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery April 5 in Washington, DC. Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.  — Author and poet Maya Angelou, who rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a force on stage, screen and the printed page, has died. She was 86.

Wake Forest University announced Angelou's death in a news release Wednesday.

She gained acclaim for her first book, her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," making her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller.

In 1998, she directed the film "Down in the Delta" about a drug-wrecked woman who returns to the home of her ancestors in the Mississippi Delta.

She was the poet chosen to read at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. She wrote and read an original composition, "On the Pulse of Morning," which became a million-seller.