What Maya Angelou Meant to Obama

Following news of Maya Angelou's passing Wednesday, celebrities and authors delivered touching tributes to the Still I Rise poet. And though a commencement speech at West Point kept him from sharing his thoughts earlier today, President Obama released a statement about Angelou that no doubt shows how much the beloved poet meant to the commander-in-chief. Said Obama in the statement released to media:

When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that "No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.

Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things — an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller — but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.

Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God's children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya's day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, "flung up to heaven" — and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.

Obama's certainly not the only person who felt this way about Angelou — for years, literature and even pop culture revered the author, and Twitter users started the hashtag #MayaTaughtMe on Wednesday, following news of her passing.

And Angelou certainly felt the same way about Obama, telling press during his second presidential run, "I think he has done a remarkable job, knowing how much he has been opposed ... I was hoping for the best. And I think I have gotten the best from him" and calling Michelle Obama a "grand dame."

In 2011, Obama awarded Angelou the Medal of Freedom, saying the poet had "spoken to millions." And, based on the outpouring of love the author received today, it's clear she'll continue to do so.