Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

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You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise

 

The poet, author, actor and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86.

Maya Angelou, who wrote the classic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, spoke at President Clinton’s 1993 inauguration and penned the seminal poem “Still I Rise,” belonged to the world, but she lived in Winston-Salem and taught at Wake Forest University.

Angelou last spoke at Wake Forest University in November 2013, when she delivered opening remarks for the campus-wide “Dignity and Respect Campaign.” She planned to teach a class this fall called “Race, Culture and Gender in the US South and Beyond,” according to the university.

“She devoted her life at Wake Forest to creating a love of language and a keen awareness of the power of literature and learning, and generations of Wake Forest students have lived richer lives for her teaching and guidance,” Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch said. “Maya Angelou has been a towering figure — at Wake Forest and in American culture. She had a profound influence in civil rights and racial reconciliation. We will miss profoundly her lyrical voice and always keen insights.”

Wake Forest University is collecting remembrances of Angelou here.