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Harlem Remembers Maya Angelou as Literary Icon, Neighbor

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Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once called Harlem home and as news of her passing spread Wednesday, residents reflected on her life and the impact it had on their lives. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.

To the world Maya Angelou was prolific and legendary. To Dr. Sayoum of Harlem she was a friend and a neighbor.

"Sometimes we went to her house and we talked," Sayoum said.

Sayoum and Angelou were friends for 10 years. He lives next door to the brownstone on West 120th Street where Angelou had a home. Sayoum says Angelou was a quiet, generous woman and a good listener.

"She lived a good life. She was very friendly she was well-respected and we all liked her," Sayoum said.

Angelou autographed books for Sayoum's granddaughters. But the biggest thrill came about a month ago when she agreed to be interviewed by one of his granddaughters for a school project.

"She wrote her and she said, 'Yes please,'" Sayoum said.

Angelou lived in New York in the 1950s and 60s. She was active in the Harlem Writer's Guild. Before she became famous for her writing she was a singer and dancer. She even performed at the Apollo Theater in "Porgy and Bess." The marquee now marks her passing.

"She was a wonderful civil rights icon she was an incredible artist but her relationship with the Apollo makes my heart warm," said Apollo Theater Historian Billy Mitchell.

Mitchell also said he will never forget meeting Angelou during a visit to the theater.

"When she walked in she had that smile, 'Hello young man,' ya know, and I could have melted right then and there," he recalled.

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