NEWARK - Beloved speaker and poet Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86, and friends from New Jersey are remembering her.

Maya Angelou was born into poverty, endured abuse as a child, and fought segregation as an adult. She triumphed to become a literary giant and an inspiration to millions.

Angelou's poems and books, including the best-selling autobiography "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," drew millions of admirers.

Among them are poet and Rutgers vice chancellor, Marcia Brown. "I can't imagine a world without her in it," she says. "But I'm so glad that she was in it."

Angelou was a civil rights activist who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. When he was assassinated on her birthday, she stopped celebrating it for years.

Newark Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka remembers Angelou as a dear friend of his late father, poet Amiri Baraka. "Every time she was around me, I was in awe more than anything else even in a casual sense," he says. 

"It's a huge loss to us but it's a huge loss for America in general," says family friend, Amiri Baraka.

Maya Angelou came to Newark several years ago to campaign for Baraka and recited her poetry on the back of a flatbed truck in Lincoln Park.