Maya Angelou, pro-gay poet, author and activist has died
LAST UPDATED // Friday, 30 May 2014 08:41 Written by // Sabine Brix
One of America's most renowned writers - Maya Angelou - who penned the groundbreaking 1969 novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, has died age 86 in North Carolina.
The African-American author, who has been hailed as one of America's leading voices on the civil rights movement, passed away on Wednesday morning. No other details have so far been released.
Angelou was best known for her series of seven autobiographies focusing on childhood and early adult experiences of which the first - I know why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) dealt with themes of race, rape and identity. The memoir went on to became the author's most highly acclaimed book.
A celebrated poet, writer and activist, Angelou also publicly supported same-sex marriage, placing phone calls to New York state senators in 2009 urging them to back marriage equality.
Upon speaking to Shirley L. Huntley, a Democratic State Senator, in 2009 she said:
"I would ask every man and every woman who’s had the blessing of having children, 'Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?'"
"To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, 'I forbid you from loving this person?'"
In addition to her writing achievements and many books, Angelou was also a Grammy Award winner for three spoken-word albums and worked as a Professor of American studies at Wake Forest University.