Renowned poet and author Maya Angelou dies at 86

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NEW YORK (NBC NEWS) -- Maya Angelou, the renowned poet, author, and civil rights activist, has died, officials in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told NBC News. The author of the celebrated autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was 86 years old.

Her death comes less than a week after Angelou announced she would not attend the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, citing "health reasons." Last month, she also canceled an event in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because she was recovering from an "unexpected ailment" that left her hospitalized.

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the name Marguerite Annie Johnson. She grew up to become a singer, dancer, actress, writer and Hollywood's first female black director.

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