Dr. Maya Angelou, a beloved American poet, author, actor, and Civil Rights activist, has died at the age of 86. She became a member of our exchange alumni community following her Fulbright 40th Anniversary Distinguished Lecturer grant in 1986, during which she lectured in Liberia. Prior to her Fulbright grant, in the mid-1950s, she toured 22 countries in Europe and Africa with a State Department production of the Gershwin folk opera, “Porgy and Bess.”
Dr. Angelou, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “And Still I Rise”, was a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. At President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony, she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.” She was the second poet to present at a presidential inauguration; her recording of the poem later won a Grammy in the “Best Spoken Word” category. You can watch a clip of that momentous occasion here.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal for the Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008. Pictured here, on February 15, 2011, she was awarded the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Through her illustrious career, life, and legacy, she inspires our passion for lifelong education and the arts.