RIP Maya

TIME

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, had some kind words for the recently departed poet and memoirist Maya Angelou, who died at the age of 86 Wednesday.

“She spoke a lot about the right of people to participate in a democratic process,” said Lewis, who is 74. “She didn’t like the system of segregation and racial discrimination in the American South and she wanted to do her part in bringing down those signs that said ‘White’ and ‘Colored.’”

The two crossed paths for decades, starting in the 1960s, as they both traversed the nation to attend rallies, protests and fund-raisers for the Civil Rights Movement. Angelou was the northern coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

“She inspired an entire generation,” he said. “During that period, you saw people reading her work; people quoting…

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