1 of 17 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Dr. Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She was later, nicknamed “Maya” by her older brother
2 of 17 Gene Lester/Getty Images
She began her career as a dancer and singer. She released the album Miss Calypso in 1957.
3 of 17 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A young Dr. Maya Angelou strikes a dance pose.
4 of 17 Ap Photo
Dr. Angelou poses with U.S. First Lady Betty Ford and five other women who took part in the taping of the television special presentation of Ladies' Home Journal "Woman of the Year 1976" in New York City.
5 of 17 AP Photo/Rob Schoenbaum
An avid cook, Dr. Angelou published two cokbooks, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories With Recipes (2005) and Great Food, All Day Long (2010).
6 of 17 AP Photo
A 6-foot-tall multi-talented presence, Dr. Angelou was hired as Hollywood's first Black woman movie director in 1971 when she directed the film adaptation of her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
7 of 17 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
While living in Accra, Ghana in the 60s, Dr. Angelou became close friends with Malcolm X. She helped him launch the Organization of Afro-American Unity in 1965 shortly before he was assassinated.
8 of 17 Fotos INternational/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Dr. Angelou was also an actress. Here she and actress Cicely Tyson look lovingly at a baby in a scene from the television mini series Roots in 1977.
9 of 17 James M. Thresher/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem attend a March on Washington on August 27, 1983.
10 of 17 Don Perdue/Liaison
Dr. Angelou moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the mid-80s. It is where she passed away on May 28, 2014.
11 of 17 Marlene Wallace/Getty Images
The beloved poet and author tends to her garden in this undated file photo taken in 1988 in Pacific Palisades, CA.
12 of 17 ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images
Dr. Angelou met Oprah Winfrey in the 1970s when Winfrey worked as a TV anchor in Baltimore. Their friendship would last for decades. They starred in the ABC TV movie There Are No Children Here in 1993.
13 of 17 Consolidated News Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Dr. Angelou recited her poem 'On the Pulse of Morning' at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in Washington DC, on January 20, 1993.
14 of 17 JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Dr. Angelou speaks while attending the funeral service for fellow civil rights icon Dr. Dorothy Height at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC in 2010.
15 of 17 Steve Exum/Getty Images
Dr. Angelou celebrated her 82nd birthday in 2010 with a garden party at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Friends like director Lee Daniels were in attendance.
16 of 17 Louis Myrie/WireImage
Dr. Anglou is pictured with civil rights icon Dr. Dorothy I. Height and Quincy Jones at the National Council of Negro Women' 6th Annual Uncommon Height Awards Gala Honoring Quincy Jones.
17 of 17 Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Barack Obama honored Dr. Maya Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in 2011.
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!