Legendary poet Maya Angelou dies at 86.  (Photo credit: Google Images)
Legendary poet Maya Angelou dies at 86.
(Photo credit: Google Images)

The blogosphere is lit up with tributes to legendary poet, novelist and actress Maya Angelou who died at her home in Winston-Salem. Angelou’s work and professions spanned many decades. She was San Francisco’s first female cable car operator and went on to become a singer, dancer and actress winning awards and accolades along the way. CNN‘s Faith Karimi reports:

“Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up between St. Louis and the then-racially-segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas. The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him. ‘My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,’ she said. From the silence, a louder voice was born.”

Hillel Italie of the Associated Press writes:

“An actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s, she broke through as an author in 1970 with “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which became standard (and occasionally censored) reading, and was the first of a multipart autobiography that continued through the decades. In 1993, she was a sensation reading her cautiously hopeful “On the Pulse of the Morning” at former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Her confident performance openly delighted Clinton and made the poem a best-seller, if not a critical favorite. For former President George W. Bush, she read another poem, “Amazing Peace,” at the 2005 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House.”


In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou The Medal of Freedom. Dr. Angelou spoke six different languages and worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. Famous friends included Malcolm X, Oprah Winfrey, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Hilary Clinton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She received over 30 honorary degrees in her lifetime and taught at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

With all of her accomplishments, she is best remembered for her poem “Phenomenal Woman.” The Burton Wire will leave you with Dr. Angelou’s poem ‘Phenomenal Woman,’ in remembrance of a phenomenal woman. She was 86.

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.
—Maya Angelou

Read more at CNN or ABC News.

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TheBurtonWire.com is the premiere online destination for people who think for themselves. This blog offers news from the African Diaspora, culture that is produced by often overlooked populations and opinion that is informed and based on fact. Tired of the onslaught of websites and talking heads that regurgitate what people want to hear, TheBurtonWire.com is a publication that elevates news and perspectives that people need to hear. TheBurtonWire.com is for individual thinkers who understand that they are part of a larger collective. What is this collective? Free thinking people that care about the world, who will not be categorized or boxed in by society or culture and are interested in issues and topics that defy stereotypes and conventional wisdom.


  1. […] World renowned author, poet, actress and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou will be memorialized today on the campus of Wake Forest University (WFU). Angelou died at her home in Wake Forest, NC on May 28. The private service is being broadcast live online at LiveStream at 10 a.m. by WFU, where Angelou taught for 30 years. Oprah Winfrey’s network OWN will also broadcast Angelou’s memorial service. Winfrey, who was a close friend of the famous poet, will speak at the memorial. First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton will also offer remarks at the private service that will be held at Wait Chapel on the campus of WFU.  Angelou was 86. […]

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