Maya Angelou Dies at 86: Local Poets Remember Her Legacy

Award-winning author and poet Maya Angelou, 86, dies in her North Carolina home and now local poets are remembering her legacy.

Image courtesy Gerald Herbert / AP Photo, File

May 28, 2014

Award-winning author and poet Maya Angelou, 86, dies in her North Carolina home and now local poets are remembering her legacy.

"Up from a past rooted in pain, I rise." Maya Angelou, legendary poet, author, teacher and civil rights activist, took her life's struggles and created memorable poetry that touched many.

"She was a great inspiration to so many people," says Hilda Ward, 82.

Ward also writes poetry and says that Maya Angelou was her inspiration because she spoke about her life and told a little piece of her story with every work.

“She was so real and so regular,” says Ward. “There was no pretense, Maya was Maya and that's what I loved about her.”

“It's wonderful that we got to know her life and she had a tough life.”

Angelou grew up poor in Stamps, Arkansas and as a child she was raped by her mother's boyfriend. He was later murdered after she testified against him, and for five years after that she decided not to speak.

But her words soon began flowing and out of her silence came works of art like I know why the caged bird sings and phenomenal woman.

“Phenomenal Woman, that's awesome,” says Ward. “That one is very important to me because it was inspirational in terms of me feeling good about myself.”

“I am a phenomenal woman, phenomenally, phenomenal women that's me,” says Kadija Adams, owner of the Poetry Company.

Adams was also inspired by Maya Angelou's poetry.

“I just recall just feeling a chill in my bones hearing that I felt like I could do anything,” says Adams.

She says her work in the civil rights movement also motivated her to create the Poetry Company, which gets teens writing poetry that can motivate their community.

“She will be very missed, but not forgotten.”

Devastated by her passing, Adams hopes Maya Angelou's words will still be an inspiration for generations to come.

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