Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, whose reading of a poem at former President Clinton's inauguration turned her into a bestselling poet, died Wednesday at the age of 86.
Angelou had a lengthy involvement in politics, and was close to both Bill and Hillary Clinton during their careers.
“On the Pulse of the Morning” became a bestseller after Angelou's reading, according to The Associated Press. An audio recording of it won Angelou the 1994 Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word.”
Under former President George W. Bush, Angelou read her poem “Amazing Peace” at the 2005 White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
A year earlier, she addressed the Democratic National Convention in Boston when John Kerry became the party’s presidential nominee.
In 2008, Angelou endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president over Barack Obama, who became the nation's first black president.
Before Obama’s 2009 inauguration, however, she told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she would be watching it on television “somewhere between crying and praying and being grateful and laughing when I see faces I know."
Angelou died Wednesday at 8 a.m. in her home, her son Guy B. Johnson wrote in a statement posted on Angelou’s Facebook page. She was scheduled to attend an event later this week, but canceled last week due to health reasons. The nature of her illness was not disclosed.
“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,” Johnson said.
Angelou’s death was also confirmed by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she worked as a professor of American Studies since 1982.