Author and poet Maya Angelou, who rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a force on stage, screen and the printed page, has died. She was 86.

Wake Forest University announced Angelou's death in a news release Wednesday.

She gained acclaim for her first book, her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," making her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller.

In 1998, she directed the film "Down in the Delta" about a drug-wrecked woman who returns to the home of her ancestors in the Mississippi Delta.

She was the poet chosen to read at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. She wrote and read an original composition, "On the Pulse of Morning," which became a million-seller.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina Mayor Allen Joines says Angelou was found dead at her home by her caretaker this morning. 

Angelou had reportedly been dealing with health problems. She recently canceled an appearance in Houston where she was to be honored by Major League Baseball with the "Beacon of Life Award." Angelou was awarded more than 30 honorary degrees and had been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her 1971 volume of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore Diiie.

Last year, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and was the Northern Coordinator of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.