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Poet, writer Maya Angelou dies at 86

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Author, poet, mentor and icon

It is a sad day in history as one of America's icons Maya Angelou has died after struggling from an illness.

It is a sad day in history because groundbreaking American poet and author Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86.

Angelou, who wrote the famous yet controversial book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, died quietly at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to a statement from her family.

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Angelou's family released the statement about her death via her Facebook page today, saying, "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."

Just a few days ago, Angelou took to her Facebook page to inform fans that her doctors had advised her not to travel, and her illness forced her to cancel a trip to Houston, Texas, where she would have been honored with the Beacon of Life Award at Major League Baseball's Civil Rights Game.

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Angelou was one of the most inspiring people and poets of all time and a highly educated woman who received more than 30 honorary degrees from universities from across the globe. She also fought hard to shed light on civil rights struggles and those of women, which earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Angelou has touched the lives of many, including influential figures such as Oprah Winfrey, who has referred to the Pulitzer Prize winner as her mentor. In addition to being the OWN network host's mentor, Angelou also recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning at President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration ceremony.

Angelou will be missed by many, but her words will live on in the hearts of people from around the world.

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