Poet, civil rights activist and Elon's Fall Convocation speaker in 2012, Dr. Maya Angelou, died around 8 a.m. Wednesday in her home in Winston-Salem, NC, according to her family. She was 86 years old.
When Angelou came to Elon, roughly 2,400 Elon students, faculty and staff members crowded Alumni Gym to hear her speak, according to elon.edu.
"We have the possibility, the privilege, of being rainbows in somebody's cloud," Angelou told her audience.
Angelou even called the university a "rainbow in the clouds."
"Many people came here who represented the first time anyone in their family had come to an institution of higher education," Angelou said.
The April 2014 Elon Poll found that Angelou was considered the eighth "Most Admired North Carolinian." A February 2013 Elon Poll showed North Carolinians considered the "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" author the fifth most admired woman from any part in the world.
Angelou's family released a statement on the author's Facebook page saying Angelou was a "warrior for equality, tolerance and peace."
Angelou is arguably best known for her poems. "On the Pulse of Morning" was read at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993.
Beyond poetry, Maya Angelou fought for civil rights and was the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was even a film director for the movie Down in the Delta (1998).
Since 1982, Maya Angelou worked as a Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. According to Wake Forest's Office of Communications and External Relations, Angelou's family will hold a private memorial service Saturday June 7 at 10 a.m. in the university chapel. A livestream of the memorial can be found at go.wfu.edu/angeloumemorial.