Remembering Maya Angelou


Maya Angelou died Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at the age of 86.

The celebrated author and poet achieved fame with her 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” about growing up poor and black in the South. Her autobiographical writing, which eventually filled seven volumes, established her as a leading voice for women and African Americans. In a statement after her death, President Barack Obama called Angelou, “One of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman.”

She was a special guest on The Diane Rehm show over the years, appearing three times between 2002 and 2013.

Take a look back at her appearances:

Maya Angelou: "Mom & Me & Mom", Wednesday May 8, 2013

Born in Saint Louis, Maya Angelou entered this world with parents who had a difficult marriage and separated after just a few years. She and her brother were sent away to be raised by their grandmother in Arkansas. At 13, she was sent back to live with her mother, Vivian Baxter, who ran a gambling business in San Francisco. In her memoir "Mom & Me & Mom," Angelou writes for the first time about the fraught relationship she had with her mother after their reunion. It’s a story of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

Transcript Highlight:

  • Diane: "I love you, Maya."
  • Maya Angelou: "I love you, Diane Rehm."
  • Diane: "Thank you."
  • Maya: "And I look forward to seeing you and talking to you again and again."

Maya Angelou: "Letter To My Daughter," Thursday November 20, 2008

Maya Angelou gave birth to only one child, a son, but says she has thousands of daughters of all backgrounds. A writer's reflections on the life lessons she’d like to pass on.

Maya Angelou: "A Song Flung Up to Heaven," Wednesday April 10, 2002

Maya Angelou chronicled her life as a poet, playwright, performer, and more in a series of memoirs. She joined Diane to present "A Song Flung Up to Heaven," which focuses when she became active in the civil rights movement in 1960s and began writing her first memoir, the 1970 best-seller "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings."

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The Diane Rehm Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.