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First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates Maya Angelou at BET Honors

Mrs. Obama asked the crowd to honor Angelou's contributions by following her example in helping others.
First Lady Michelle Obama applauds Maya Angelo during the BET Awards ceremony

First Lady Michelle Obama applauds poet Maya Angelou who receives the Literary Arts Award at the BET Honors ceremony at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Michelle Obama was at the BET Honors Saturday night in Washington D.C. to present the Literary Arts award to Maya Angelou, who the First Lady said was one of her "she-roes." Angelou, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2010, is as well known for her work as a civil rights activist as she is an artist, whose prolific body of work includes writing poetry, memoirs, novels and plays. She has also been a producer, actress, historian and filmmaker.

Mrs. Obama, who told the audience at the historic Warner Theatre that she had been "spellbound" when reading her stories, asked the crowd to honor Angelou's contributions by following her example:

Maya Angelou teaches us that it’s not enough merely to seek greatness for ourselves. We must help others discover the greatness within themselves.  We need to reach down…and reach out…and give back…and lift up others the way Maya has lifted us. 

That is how we can most truly honor our friend Maya Angelou – by how we live our lives…by striving every day to embody the wisdom, and generosity, and radiant love with which she has graced our world. 

Related: Read the poem Maya Angelou wrote for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial