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Maya Angelou Dead at 86, Stars Reacts on Twitter

Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Maya Angelou, an esteemed poet, author and civil rights activist, passed away quietly at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday (May 28). She was 86 years old.

Her son, Guy Johnson, confirmed the sad news in a statement. It reads:

Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. 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.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Mo., in 1928. As a child, she grew up in the segregated south and work a number of jobs to support herself.

Angelou overcame many personal obstacles in life, including childhood depression, rape, giving birth as a teenager and, at one time, was a prostitute.

In 1969, she published her first book, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ which focused on her life and personal struggles. The book was nominated for a National Book Award and put her in the national spotlight.

“I thought that it was a mild book. There’s no profanity,” Angelou told the Associated Press. “It speaks about surviving, and it really doesn’t make ogres of many people. I was shocked to find there were people who really wanted it banned, and I still believe people who are against the book have never read the book.”

After the success of her first book, Angelou wrote the screenplay and score for the 1972 film, ‘Georgia, Georgia,’ becoming the first African-American woman to author a screenplay that was filmed. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, as well.

Angelou also spent time living in Ghana between 1962 and 1965. She wrote for the Ghanaian Times newspaper and was a broadcast journalist for Radio Ghana.

Overall, Angelou went on to write over 30 published works and win three Grammy Awards. She also became a mentor to Oprah Winfrey and was feted by many presidents.

Angelou spoked at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration and was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 2000. President Barack Obama also honored Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.

As news of her death spread, celebrities went on Twitter to offer condolences to Angelou’s family. Read some of the tweets below.

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