Maya Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday, at 86. Her literary agent told the media that she had been “frail” and suffering from heart problems.
Angelou is best known for her poetry and powerful voice in the civil rights movement. Her work “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was an international bestseller and nominated for the Best Book Award in 1970. Her honors include a Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie”, a Tony Award nomination for her play “Look Away, and three Grammys.
She also served on two presidential committees — for presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Arts, and in 2010, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama.
And, in its tribute to the literary giant, the National Review is remembering her for being a proud gun owner.
Angelou also emerged very late in life as an off-hand supporter of the right to bear arms. In a 2013 interview with Time magazine’s Belinda Luscombe, the ancient poetess talked Star Trek and death (“I’ll probably be writing when the Lord says, ‘Maya, Maya Angelou, it’s time’”), but she also recounted how she used a gun for home defense:
Did you inherit your mother’s fondness for guns?
I like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them.
Have you ever fired your weapon?
I was in my house in North Carolina. It was fall. I heard someone walking on the leaves. And somebody actually turned the knob. So I said, “Stand four feet back because I’m going to shoot now!” Boom! Boom! The police came by and said, “Ms. Angelou, the shots came from inside the house.” I said, “Well, I don’t know how that happened.”