Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Maya Angelou, a poet and
civil rights activist, died Wednesday at the age of 86, according to
multiple media reports including CNN.com.
Angelou had been suffering from heart issues.
honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom
by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Medal of Freedom has been awarded since 1963, when an executive order
by President John F. Kennedy revived the medal that had originally
been created by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize World War
II service people.
The centerpiece of the medal is a
white, five-pointed star.
"For years the white star
has been displayed throughout the world as the identifying emblem of
United States elements in the defense of freedom,” the JFK Library’s website reads. "It is
recognized universally as a symbol of our selfless determination to
maintain the freedom and democracy of mankind.”
the white star is a blue circle filled with 13 gold stars, and
surrounding it are gold eagles that fill the spaces between the star’s
The medal hangs from a blue ribbon with
Angelou was awarded the National Medal of
Arts in 2000.
Other notable numismatic items obtained by
Angelou are a 1994 NAACP Spingarn Medal, a 2000
National Medal of Arts, and a 2008 Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal.
"The Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal is an annual award given to
individuals who, through their body of work, accomplishments or
personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy, and mettle of
character embodied by the most beloved President in our Nation’s
history, President Abraham Lincoln,” the Ford’s Theatre website reads.