Beloved poet and author Maya Angelou died Wednesday morning at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., her family confirmed. She was 86. Angelou made an emotional impact on millions throughout the years with her writing, notably with her famed 1970 memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Almost immediately after the news broke Wednesday morning, Twitter lit up with heartfelt tributes (see below).
President Obama also released a statement:
When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.”
Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but 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. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.
Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.
Bill Clinton weighed in:
With Maya Angelou’s passing, America has lost a national treasure; and Hillary and I, a beloved friend.
The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace.
I will always be grateful for her electrifying reading of “On the Pulse of Morning” at my first inaugural, and even more for all the years of friendship that followed.
Now she sings the songs the Creator gave to her when the river “and the tree and the stone were one.”
Our deepest sympathies are with Guy and his family.
And from Oprah:
I’ve been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister and friend since my 20s. 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 won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. 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.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou – who was utterly amazing. — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 28, 2014
My heart and soul hurt today because of the passing of a true Genious Maya Angelou. Heaven has another wonderful angel walking its golden st — Darius Rucker (@dariusrucker) May 28, 2014
“Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.”—Maya Angelou, a truly phenomenal woman whose words will serve to lift our souls forever. — Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) May 28, 2014
RIP Maya Angelou. A great woman. — Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 28, 2014
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou, whose words changed so much. — Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) May 28, 2014
“…[P]eople will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou — Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 28, 2014
“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou, thank you for always helping me find light in darkness. — mae margaret whitman (@maebirdwing) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou has passed away. She was a great light in the world. I feel honored to live in a world she influenced and touched so deeply. — Cyndi Lauper (@cyndilauper) May 28, 2014
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go thru life w/ a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” -Maya Angelou — Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou GOD bless you and keep you. We will NEVER forget your inspiring life of overcoming all….. Rest in Peace….. — Maggie Q (@MaggieQ) May 28, 2014
RIP Maya Angelou, a national treasure. — Sway Calloway (@RealSway) May 28, 2014
Today we lost a great mind and soul. My condolences to the family and loved ones of Maya Angelou. She will be remembered and admired. — Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou is my hero. She gave me courage to love myself and others. Her life was a gift to so many. — America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera) May 28, 2014
Rest in peace, Dr. Maya Angelou. The world is better because of your voice. — Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou, a true American hero. A woman of uncommon eloquence & strength. The stars are less lonesome now, the caged bird is free. — rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) May 28, 2014
Thoughts and prayers going out to the family of Maya Angelou. — William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) May 28, 2014
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou — Valerie Bertinelli (@Wolfiesmom) May 28, 2014
“All great artists draw from the same resource the human heart,which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike -Maya Angelou — Mike Epps (@TheRealMikeEpps) May 28, 2014
The beautiful Maya Angelou died this morning. A big and radiant soul, at rest at last. — Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) May 28, 2014
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” -Maya Angelou. — Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) May 28, 2014
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” RIP Maya Angelou — LA Reid (@LA_Reid) May 28, 2014
Sweet Maya Angelou, rest in peace, amazing woman. What a light. — Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) May 28, 2014
Saddened by the news of Maya Angelou’s passing. A brilliant woman who contributed so much to the world. Her light will be sorely missed. — Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) May 28, 2014
I was thinking about her lately. GOD Bless the Soul of one if my heroes. Dr Maya Angelou
— COMMON (@common) May 28, 2014
Dr Maya Angelou…thank you for every single thing. Every single damn thing. RIP
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) May 28, 2014
RIP to the incredible #MayaAngelou!! You were an inspiration to so many!!
— Debra Lee (@IamDebraLee) May 28, 2014
— NeNe Leakes (@NeNeLeakes) May 28, 2014
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) May 28, 2014
Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, for your wonderful words and wisdom. Rest in peace.
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) May 28, 2014
Maya Angelou’s indelible and timeless voice for empathy, passion and humanity touched millions http://t.co/WIJQvTuRo1
— Al Gore (@algore) May 28, 2014
Capehart: Maya Angelou goes home