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Today we’ve lost one of the most prolific thinkers, writers and speakers of our time. After cancelling a scheduled appearance this week due to health issues, My Fox 8 is reporting that American author and poet Maya Angelou is dead at 86.

Dr. Angelou was found by her caretaker early this morning and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines confirmed the news, which is sure to sadden many. In just two days, Dr. Angelou was set to receive the “Beacon of Life Award” at the 2014 MLB Beacon Award Luncheon in Houston, which so perfectly sums up her legacy.

In all, Dr. Angelou has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, over a period of more than fifty years and has received numerous awards and honors, including over 30 honorary doctoral degrees. She also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, was the civil rights activist’s first autobiography and has become a staple of English classrooms across the country. The book broke barriers at the time with Angelou being one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life and was the work that spawned her international recognition and literary acclaim. There is hardly enough space to sum up all the gems of wisdom Dr. Angelou has bestowed upon the masses, yet so perfectly exhibiting her reach across generations and genres is the last tweet the poet shared just five days ago, which read: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

Rest in peace, Dr. Maya Angelou.

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