How Maya Angelou was at the Women's March on Washington in spirit


Millions of people joined in Women's Marches around the world Saturday, and the legacy of the late civil rights icon Maya Angelou was ever-present.

The poet, performer, author and staunch civil rights activist had many friends and admirers in attendance at the Washington D.C. march. Angelou's wisdom helped to inspire millions of marchers around the globe, including Grammy-Award winning singer Alicia Keys.

Related: Women's Marches around the United States

The recording artist recited a moving passage from Angelou's iconic poem "Still I Rise" during Saturday's demonstrations.

Out of the huts of history's shame / I rise / Up from a past that's rooted in pain / I rise / I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide / Welling and swelling I bear in the tide / Leaving behind nights of terror and fear / I rise / Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear / I rise / Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave / I rise

The "Girl on Fire" singer ignited the crowd with Angelou's words, powerfully adding her own to create a message that resonated with marchers of all ages and demographics.

"We want the best for all Americans," Keys proclaimed to the hundreds of thousands of march participants. "No Hate, no bigotry, no muslim registry. We value education, healthcare and equality. We will continue to rise until our voices are heard."

"The courage that was in [Angelou] when you stood next to her, all you had to do was walk in the room and you felt empowered, and I think that lives on after her," Michelle Dougherty, who marched on Saturday in Washington D.C., told AOL News.

Angelou's legacy and spirit transcended generations, gender, race and socioeconomic status. Throughout her storied days as a civil rights activist, she worked closely with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fundraising and organizing nonviolent protests and voter registration drives.

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"[Angelou] was there with Malcolm, she was there with Martin Luther, she was there with John Lewis," Women's March participant and friend of Angelou's Mike Dougherty said to AOL News. "She would be here with every one of us and she is here in her spirit right now."

The accomplished author and poet devoted her life to advocating for the civil rights, as well as the rights of women, LGBTQ and impoverished communities. Angelou became a beacon of hope and strength in overcoming adversity.

Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama in 2011. She died in May of 2014 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86-years-old.