The phenomenal Dr. Maya Angelou was laid to rest on Saturday, June 7 at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Family and friends gathered to celebrate the inspirational life she lived and how she used words to change the world. Cicely Tyson, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton among others shared moments spent with Dr. Angelou and how much her words impacted their lives.
Michelle Obama shared how Dr. Angelou’s words have built her self-esteem as a Black woman and carried her through the happiest and hardest times of her life.
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“The first time I read Phenomenal Woman, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty in a way that no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace.”
“As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.”
“Her message was very simple: She told us that our worth had nothing to do with what the world might say.”
“Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my moments. Through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms … through long years on the campaign trail where at times my very womanhood was dissected and questioned.”
Bill Clinton recalled the first time he met Dr. Angelou on the campaign trail in 1982 and how she drew attention to important issues facing America.
“She called our attention in thousands of ways to her belief that life is a gift manifested in each new day,” he said of Angelou. “She called our attention to the fact that things that really mattered — dignity, work, love and kindness — are things that we can all share and don’t cost a thing…”
There is no denying the profound impact Dr. Maya Angelou made on the world through the use of powerful words and a passion for life that is unmatched by many. She lived a long fruitful life of 86 years and she will continue to be remembered through the many gifts she left behind.
Watch the entire memorial service below: