Maya Angelou is remembered by her friends and family at a memorial service which took place at the main chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Saturday, June 7. The private event was also attended by Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton who shared some words to honor the beloved poet.
"Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known. She was my anchor. So it's hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts," a tearful Winfrey said. The media mogul additionally shared that Angelou, whom she met before she rose to stardom, taught her to find the rainbow in the clouds.
"Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head," First Lady Michelle Obama said at the event. "She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say. Instead, she said, each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race."
Former president Bill Clinton, who also attended the memorial, spoke of moments when Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she became a rape victim when she was a child. "She was without a voice for five years and then she developed the greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice. She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while," Clinton said.
In addition to the three figures, the memorial service was attended by actor/director Tyler Perry and actress Cicely Tyson. Gospel singer Bobby Jones and country star Lee Ann Womack performed at the event.
Angelou passed away at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the age of 86. She recited a poem called "On the Pulse of Morning" in President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2011.