Dr. Maya Angelou–American poet laureate, author, actress, teacher and civil rights activist–has died in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86.

Her son, Guy B. Johnson, released a statement saying Ms. Angelou passed away quietly in her home just before 8 a.m. Thursday:

“Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

Called a “lyrical witness to the Jim Crow South” by the New York Times, Ms. Angelou was said to have been in frail health and suffering heart problems.

Ms. Angelou, whose work “recalls the African-American oral tradition,” writes Margalit Fox, was a beloved voice of the nation. In 1993, she recited her encompassing poem On the Pulse of Morning at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural. In 2011, President Obama awarded Ms. Angelou the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Listen to Ms. Angelou at the Clinton inaugural by clicking on the video above, courtesy of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

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