Dr. Maya Angelou, the beloved writer, poet and activist, passed away early Wednesday morning at her Winston-Salem, N.C., home.

With her powerful words that encouraged and inspired generations of people around the world, Angelou authored numerous works of memoir and poetry, including “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie.” During her lifetime, she was honored with many awards, including a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play "Look Away," three Grammy awards for her spoken-word albums, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou went on to receive over 30 honorary degrees in honor of her celebrated literary works. And in celebration of her phenomenal life, above we’ve gathered 15 inspiring photos of the extraordinary Maya Angelou.