Awards & Recognition Thanking Maya Angelou For Her Words

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”—Maya Angelou

We thank Dr. Maya Angelou for telling her story to the world. As a prolific writer and poet, Dr. Angelou spent many of her 86 years influencing others with her words about her own life and family, about race, sex, identity, humanity, community, and so much more.

On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Dr. Angelou passed away in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her dedication, truthfulness, and creativity won her countless honors and awards throughout her life, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian honor in the U.S.), the Langston Hughes Medal, the National Medal of Arts, and Tony, Audie, and Grammy awards.

Dr. Angelou’s three Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album were for her illuminating and lyrical performances of her poems, On the Pulse of Morning (written for Bill Clinton’s 1995 presidential inauguration), and Phenomenal Woman, and also for her audiobook narration of her sixth autobiography, A SONG FLUNG UP TO HEAVEN.

Dr. Angelou’s prose is famous for its honesty and its style, reminiscent of the African-American oral tradition. She evokes that same distinction and sensibility in the narrations of her many works. And though Dr. Angelou led a life full of voice—as a storyteller, a singer, an activist, and an educator—it’s remarkable to note that she decided not to speak for five years after enduring a childhood trauma, which she writes about in her most widely-recognized memoir, I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. But it was her love of literature and story that helped her gain the confidence to speak again.

We are thankful to be left with Dr. Angelou’s words—words that will continue to influence and change us. That is a great gift we will forever cherish.

By Maya Angelou
Read by Maya Angelou


“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”

By Maya Angelou
Read by Maya Angelou


“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

More by Maya Angelou:


Words from Penguin Random House

“Maya, a dear friend, helped change our hearts and minds about the African American experience in the United States, bringing it to vivid life, and her spirit and energy crossed all borders and deeply affected readers around the world.”
–Robert Loomis, Maya Angelou’s editor of more than forty years

“Today a light has gone out at Random House. Dr. Angelou was an inspiration to all, and we are proud and honored to have known her and to be part of the devoted team that publishes her work. Maya will be deeply missed.”
–Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of Random House

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