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Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou’s wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching – those present recalled at the two-hour-long tribute.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service. “But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she’d been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language.”

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

“Her voice lifted me right out of my own little head,” Obama told those gathered in the wooden pews of the main campus chapel. A large photo of her husband awarding Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 hung from the campus chapel’s oak wall.

The first lady added, “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.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice. She once described herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back.”

Winfrey said the close and constant friend she met before becoming a talk show host could shake her out of bouts of self-doubt. Angelou taught her to look beyond trouble and spot the rainbow in the clouds, Winfrey said.

“Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Winfrey said, then almost sobbing: “She was my anchor. So it’s hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts.”

Winfrey and Obama, seated next to each other in the chapel’s front row, swayed in unison as Grammy-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones prompted hands to wave and clap. Actor and producer Tyler Perry assisted actress Cicely Tyson and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young to the podium before country singer Lee Ann Womack drew cheers with her hit “I Hope You Dance.”

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also danced at a strip joint, sang on records, acted alongside James Earl Jones and earned a Tony nomination for her work on Broadway. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou also worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met South African liberation pioneer Nelson Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Her son, Guy Johnson, said Angelou’s last decade was filled with pain – the toll of her career as a professional dancer and respiratory failure. She was bound to a wheelchair and oxygen tanks. Still, she was able to write four more books, had all of her mental faculties, and died quietly in her sleep.

“There is no mourning here,” he said.

Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the poet, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for more than 30 years. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told those gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as 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,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He also said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton added.

The service was punctuated several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she had never graduated from college.

Winfrey spoke of Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes whenever they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched through television.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Her magnetism drew her into friendships with many famous figures, including Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking, something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and song.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the writer, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their own lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for decades. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told the audience gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told those seated in the wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child.

“She was without a voice for five years and then she developed he greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said.

The service included several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she never graduated from college.

Winfrey remembered Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes when they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched in her career.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama lauded poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as the first person who let her know she could be a strong and smart black woman, joining other famous admirers and friends in a private memorial service Saturday that was filled with tears, laughter, poetry and song.

Former President Bill Clinton said Angelou, one of the most famous black writers of the 20th century, was a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one. Others said the writer, who rose from poverty and segregation, gave strength to millions of women to live their own lives in modern America.

Family, friends and admirers led by the first lady, Clinton and Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to Angelou at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where the writer had taught for decades. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Obama told the audience gathered in a university chapel how reading Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” changed a little black girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and whose first doll was Malibu Barbie.

“She celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace,” Obama told those seated in the wooden pews. “Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful.”

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” In 1993, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child.

“She was without a voice for five years and then she developed he greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice,” Clinton said Saturday. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

He said she was a role model for many.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said.

The service included several rousing gospel songs. There were tears, but laughter too, as Angelou’s friends remembered a clever woman with a deep spiritual faith.

At the private North Carolina school, the writer was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received even though she never graduated from college.

Winfrey remembered Angelou as her spiritual queen mother, saying she always took notes when they spoke on the phone. She cried a few times as she remembered how Angelou was a vital part of her career, reminding her of the millions of people she has touched in her career.

Winfrey said she struggled to put what Angelou meant into words, then realized she owed the poet not words, but actions.

“I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps,” Winfrey said.

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Clinton said he first encountered Angelou through her autobiographical book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He grew up about 20 miles from where Angelou spent her childhood and said the author’s power was amplified because he was so familiar with her surroundings.

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton remembered poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one, with a sweeping experience that defined modern America.

Family, friends and famous admirers led by Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey gathered in a chapel at Wake Forest University on Saturday to remember Angelou, one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers.

Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a remarkable life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history, And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service.

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child.

“She was without a voice for five years and then she developed he greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Earlier, Angelou’s grandson Elliott Jones welcomed the audience by telling them they were celebrating “an amazing life – a life well-lived.” Jones then read a passage from his grandmother’s poem, “Still I Rise.”

“Just like moons and like suns. With the certainty of tides. Just like hopes springing high. Still I’ll rise.”

Born into poverty and segregation, Angelou rose to become an accomplished actress, singer, dancer and writer. Although she never graduated from college, she taught for more than 30 years at the private North Carolina university, where she was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received.

Her magnetism also drew her into friendships with famous figures from Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela to Clinton and Winfrey

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton remembered poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou as a woman who seemed to have lived five lifetimes in one, with a sweeping experience that defined modern America.

Family, friends and famous admirers led by Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey gathered in a chapel at Wake Forest University on Saturday to remember Angelou, one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers.

Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a remarkable life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

“We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history, And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is,” Clinton said at the private memorial service.

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Clinton remembered that voice, and how Angelou chose not to speak for five years after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child.

“She was without a voice for five years and then she developed he greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

Clinton compared Angelou to a firefly, who would light up at the most unexpected time, illuminating “something right before your nose you’ve been overlooking something in your mind you’ve been burying. Something in your heart you were afraid to face.”

Earlier, Angelou’s grandson Elliott Jones welcomed the audience by telling them they were celebrating “an amazing life – a life well-lived.” Jones then read a passage from his grandmother’s poem, “Still I Rise.”

“Just like moons and like suns. With the certainty of tides. Just like hopes springing high. Still I’ll rise.”

Born into poverty and segregation, Angelou rose to become an accomplished actress, singer, dancer and writer. Although she never graduated from college, she taught for more than 30 years at the private North Carolina university, where she was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received.

Her magnetism also drew her into friendships with famous figures from Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela to Clinton and Winfrey

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Family, friends and famous admirers including first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey gathered Saturday and paid tribute to poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou.

Angelou was honored as a renaissance figure and one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers at the private memorial service at Wake Forest University. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a remarkable life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

The funeral program includes tributes from Clinton and Winfrey and a eulogy to be given by the first lady. Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young is speaking, along with several family members and the poet’s friends.

Angelou’s grandson Elliott Jones welcomed the audience by telling them they were celebrating “an amazing life – a life well-lived.” Jones then read a passage from his grandmother’s poem, “Still I Rise.”

“Just like moons and like suns. With the certainty of tides. Just like hopes springing high. Still I’ll rise.”

Born into poverty and segregation, Angelou rose to become an accomplished actress, singer, dancer and writer. Although she never graduated from college, she taught for more than 30 years at the private North Carolina university, where she was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received.

Her magnetism also drew her into friendships with famous figures from Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela to Clinton and Winfrey

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

Poet Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service

KDWN

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Family, friends and famous admirers including first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey gathered Saturday and paid tribute to poet, orator and sage Maya Angelou.

Angelou was honored as a renaissance figure and one of the 20th century’s most famous black writers at the private memorial service at Wake Forest University. Angelou died May 28 at age 86 after a remarkable life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

The funeral program includes tributes from Clinton and Winfrey and a eulogy to be given by the first lady. Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young is speaking, along with several family members and the poet’s friends.

Angelou’s grandson Elliott Jones welcomed the audience by telling them they were celebrating “an amazing life – a life well-lived.” Jones then read a passage from his grandmother’s poem, “Still I Rise.”

“Just like moons and like suns. With the certainty of tides. Just like hopes springing high. Still I’ll rise.”

Born into poverty and segregation, Angelou rose to become an accomplished actress, singer, dancer and writer. Although she never graduated from college, she taught for more than 30 years at the private North Carolina university, where she was regularly addressed as Dr. Angelou out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received.

Her magnetism also drew her into friendships with famous figures from Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela to Clinton and Winfrey

Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco. Her life included writing poetry by age 9, giving birth as a single mother by 17, and becoming San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. She also once danced at a strip joint, shared the stage with comic Phyllis Diller and garnered career advice from singer Billie Holiday. She wrote music and plays, received an Emmy nomination for her acting in the 1970s TV miniseries “Roots” and danced with Alvin Ailey.

Tall and majestic, Angelou added heft to her spoken words with a deep and sonorous voice, describing herself as a poet in love with “the music of language.” She recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history, “On the Pulse of Morning,” when Clinton opened his first term in 1993. She inspired many and became a mentor to Winfrey before she became a talk show host.

Angelou once worked as a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and lived for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Mandela. In 1968, she was helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People’s March in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was slain on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.