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Award winning author, poet and phenomenal woman Dr. Maya Angelou has died at age 86.

The civil rights activist, whose groundbreaking autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings detailed her childhood in Jim Crow South, was found by her caretaker on Wednesday morning.

She was reportedly battling health problems and had recently canceled a scheduled appearance at a special event to be held in her honor. Angelou, whose literature spans five decades, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, by President Obama in February 2011.

A beacon for and inspiration for women worldwide, Angelou is responsible for one of the most recited poems to date, Phenomenal Woman:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them,

They say they still can’t see.

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Her family has released a statement following her passing:

“Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. 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.
Guy B. Johnson”

As this is a developing story, we’ll keep you updated with the latest.


22 Photos Of Poet, Author & Activist Maya Angelou Being A “Phenomenal Woman” (PHOTOS)
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