Attorney General Eric Holder today issued the following statement on the passing of Maya Angelou:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maya Angelou, a true national treasure whom I have admired greatly for many, many years.
“Dr. Angelou was much more than a literary genius, a chronicler of Jim Crow, and a witness to history. Through her extraordinary work, she captured the tenacity of the human spirit and spoke of harsh realities in the most evocative, moving, and lyrical of ways. Over the course of a career spanning some of the most tumultuous decades of the last century, she taught us how to rise above ‘a past that’s rooted in pain.’ She gave voice to a people too often shut out of America’s public discourse. She displayed remarkable courage in the face of tremendous adversity. And she inspired generations to overcome life’s greatest challenges – through her extensive writings, her performances, her advocacy, her educational work, and her principled activism.
“For my family and me, Maya Angelou will always be much more than a great American and an icon in world literature. She is the namesake of one of my daughters, who met her as a young girl and celebrated her twenty-first birthday just one day before the elder Maya was lost to us. Although our hearts are filled with grief at the news of her passing – a sorrow made all the more acute by the knowledge that we shall not see her like again – she will continue to be a source of strength and inspiration. She will endure in the singular body of work she leaves behind. And she will live on in the shining example that guides our steps forward and fuels the work that remains.
“We have lost a legend, a trailblazer in the truest sense, and one of the guiding lights of the 20th century. Yet despite our heartache and our pain, Maya Angelou will always be with us. Her voice will continue to console, to challenge, and to inspire us. We bid her farewell today. But we know that, even now, ‘into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear,’ still she rises.”