Residents react to Maya Angelou's death - WNEM TV 5

Residents react to Maya Angelou's death

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Wednesday the nation and people across the world were mourning the loss of Maya Angelou.

The award-winning poet and author had humble beginnings.

She was born in Mississippi where she met tragedy early in life. She was raped at the age of 7 and stopped talking for five years.

When she found her voice again, it gave rise to messages of hope and strength. Those were messages she traveled the world to share, including here in Mid-Michigan.

Dr. Mamie Thorns remembers the day Maya Angelou came to Saginaw.

"It was phenomenal," she said.

The year was 2004 and the award-winning author and poet was at Saginaw Valley State University to speak.

"Many of them had heard about her, studied her in history class and they wanted her here. They knew about her work, those young people, and it was pretty cool," Thorns said.

Thorns, special assistant to the university president for diversity, said Angelou's visit to the campus attracted more than 4,000 people that day. It's a day many will never forget. 

Angelou, who died on Wednesday, published seven autobiographies and was an active voice during the Civil Rights Movement. Angelou was also only the second poet to speak at a presidential inauguration. She read the poem On the Pulse of the Morning when Bill Clinton was inaugurated in 1993.

"To know where she came from and all the obstacles, she didn't let it define her," Thorns said.

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