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Statement on the Death of Maya Angelou

Poetry on barn.jpg

poetry on barn side

Photo from Flickr's Creative Commons by V.H. Hammer.

It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the passing of Maya Angelou. A poet, actress, activist, and teacher, Ms. Angelou was awarded a 2000 National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton.

Many will speak of Maya Angelou's extraordinary life and her varied and highly regarded artistic achievements, but for us at the National Endowment for the Arts, we will remember her most vividly as a favorite poet for hundreds of high school students who competed in the NEA's national poetry recitation competition, Poetry Out Loud. Her poem Still I Rise, was the number one poem selected by students competing in the 2006 contest.

In 1990, she gave the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, an annual forum intended to stimulate dialogue on policy and social issues affecting the arts. During her speech, she noted, "Art needs to ask us, ‘What do we think is our reason for being on this earth? What do we think is our right to abide on this planet? What is our duty to the planet? To other forms of life, with whom we are connected? To our own species?'"

We join with people all around the world in both mourning her death and celebrating her life.