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Maya Angelou epitomized the term 'renaissance'

May 29, 2014 - By The Philadelphia Inquirer

If "renaissance" is the appropriate adjective to describe someone who has played many roles in life, then it fits Maya Angelou.

She was a poet, memoirist, dancer, singer, actor, magazine editor, rape victim, single mother, civil rights activist, and one of America's brightest lights.

Maya Angelou died Wednesday at age 86.

Angelou first burst into this nation's consciousness with the publication of her 1969 autobiography titled "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which described what it was like to grow up poor and female in the Jim Crow South of her youth.

She captivated a national audience in reciting her inspirational poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," at the 1993 swearing-in of President Bill Clinton, which urged humankind to:

"Lift up your eyes upon

This day breaking for you.

Give birth again

To the dream.

Women, children, men,

Take it into the palms of your hands,

Mold it into the shape of your most

Private need. Sculpt it into

The image of your most public self.

Lift up your hearts

Each new hour holds new chances

For a new beginning.

Angelou, who became a familiar face on film and television, will be missed.

But the wisdom she presented in prose and poetry will forever be present.

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