Reactions to the death of Maya Angelou

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NEW YORK (AP) — Politicians, media figures and fellow artists are paying tribute to Maya Angelou, the author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” who died Wednesday at age 86. Here is a look at what people from President Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey are saying:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the death of poet and author Maya Angelou has dimmed “one of the brightest lights of our time.”

Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama will cherish the time they spent with Angelou.

He said Angelou had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children and that we all have something to offer.

“Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time: a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman,” Obama said.

“Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things: an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller, and her greatest stories were true.”

Obama said “a childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking, but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves.”

He presented Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2011, and said the poet had inspired his mother to name his sister Maya.

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FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON

“With Maya Angelou’s passing, America has lost a national treasure; and Hillary and I, a beloved friend. The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace. I will always be grateful for her electrifying reading of ‘On the Pulse of Morning’ at my first inaugural, and even more for all the years of friendship that followed. Now she sings the songs the Creator gave to her when the river ‘and the tree and the stone were one.'”

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OPRAH WINFREY

“She won three Grammys, spoke six languages and was the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds.”

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THE REV. JESSE JACKSON

“For those who never saw her, they can now listen to her and learn. She has much to teach this generation and generations unborn about what it means to be an authentic person and the power of the genuine. When she spoke, people listened. When she wrote, people read, and that happened because she lived and she was the word that became flesh and dwelled among us.”

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QUINCY JONES

“From collaborating on two songs on my soundtrack for ‘For Love of Ivy’ in 1968 to delivering her poem ‘Pulse of the Morning’ during the Clinton Inaugural in 1992, working with Maya always brought joy and love. As an author and poet, Maya Angelou’s ability to channel God’s voice and express the feelings deep within all of humanity will never be matched by another. She gave us words when we could find none, and helped us to see clearly when the light was dimmest. Maya would always teasingly say to me, ‘Darling, let’s have lurnch,’ and I will always be ready. I will miss her deeply, but I know her presence will always be with us.”

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ARETHA FRANKLIN

“So sorry to hear about the passing of such a great woman. In addition to ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,’ I loved her recipes and manner! Wisdom at work! Enlightening for a nation!”

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ROBERT LOOMIS, HER LONGTIME EDITOR AT RANDOM HOUSE

“Maya, a dear friend, helped change our hearts and minds about the African-American experience in the United States, bringing it to vivid life, and her spirit and energy crossed all borders and deeply affected readers around the world.”

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