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Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was one of the most notable writers of the twentieth century. Through her memoirs, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), she offered dramatic insight not only into her own life but also into African American culture. Her work found an audience among black and white readers. Angelou was also a celebrated poet. Her collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1971, and she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was also a civil rights activist who worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X during the 1960s. Her body of work offered a strong rebuke to the nation’s long history of racism and inspired countless African American writers to follow in her footsteps.