In this May 17, 2011 file photo, Maya Angelou, left, and Oprah Winfrey laugh during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
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Maya Angelou walked into a meeting of civil rights leaders discussing affirmative action back in the 1990s, looked around, and put them all in their place with a single, astute observation.Angelou, who died Wednesday at 86, made an impact on American culture that transcended her poetry and searing memoirs. She was the nation's wise woman, a poet to presidents, an unapologetic conscience who became such a touchstone that grief over her loss poured from political leaders, celebrities and ordinary people in generous doses."Above all, she was a storyteller -- and her greatest stories were true," President Barack Obama said.Never hesitant to speak her mind, Angelou passionately defended the rights of women, young people and the ignored. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, remembered the "incredibly powerful experience" of being invited to Angelou's home.King was assassinated there, on Angelou's 40th birthday.
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