Award-winning author, poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou, who died at age 86 on Wednesday, moved Americans when she read the poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration ceremony.
Angelou was only the second poet to read at a presidential inauguration, following Robert Frost's reading of "The Gift Outright" at John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration.
Clinton cited the moment in his statement on Angelou's passing:
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.”
Our deepest sympathies are with Guy and his family.
See a video of Angelou reading the poem at Clinton's inauguration above. (Video courtesy of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.)