Family, Friends Celebrate Maya Angelou During Memorial

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Family and friends remembered and celebrated Dr. Maya Angelou at a memorial at Wake Forest University on Saturday morning.

"There is no mourning here. We have added to the population of angels," said Angelou's son Guy Bailey Johnson. "There is work everywhere. Humanity and the planet Earth require your attention."

"She would say, 'this is my hand on your back keeping you steady, I may let you trip, but I won't let you fall," said Angelou's grandson Colin Ashanti Johnson. "I am glad to have shared grandma with the world. If she made you feel as half as special as she made me feel, then you are blessed.

The service included personal reflections and musical tributes from special guests.

Read:Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Oprah Attend At Dr. Maya Angelou's Funeral

"The loss I feel is something I cannot describe," said Oprah Winfrey. "She was my spiritual queen mother."

Winfrey shared a story of how once she called Angelou for a shoulder to cry on. Angelou wouldn't let her talk, kept telling Winfrey to stop crying. "Stop and say thank you because God has a put a rainbow in the clouds," Angelou told Winfrey.

"She would want me, you, us to live her legacy," Winfrey said. "I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps."

"She had enough experiences for 5 lifetimes," reflected President Bill Clinton during the service. He said her great gift, was always paying attention and listening. By the time she was writing her books, she was sharing with us what she had been paying attention to, and with such clarity.

"She just kept calling our attention to things," Clinton said. "She called our attention to the fact that things that really matter, dignity, work, love and kindness are all things that we can all share and don't cost anything. And, they matter more than wealth and power."

Angelou's grandson, Elliott Matthew Jones, welcomed those attending. He talked of how the family had always shared his grandma with the globe, and now, from around the globe they feel the love and support in this time of loss.

"When I think about Maya Angelou, think about the affirmative power of her words," First Lady Michelle Obama said. "Her words were so powerful. They carried a little black girl from the south side of Chicago all the way to the White House."

Obama went on to talk about Angelou's message saying it was very simple. Angelou told us our worth was nothing about about what the world might say. She reminded us that we each must find our own voice, decide our own value and then announce it to the world as it is our birth right as humans.

"Maya Angelou wanted all of us to be phenomenal right along side her," Obama said.

"Our sister, our mother, our friend will always be with us," said Ambassador Andrew Young. Young also read from scripture, John 14:1-6, 27.

Cicely Tyson reflected on their friendship and shared personal memories. She shared her first time performing in the theater, where she met Angelou. "This bond will never be broken."

Dr. Serenus T Churn, Sr. gave the Eulogy. He told us that while we all know Angelou for so many things, her poems and writings, what we might not know is how much family meant to her, that she was a giver and a woman of faith.

The service ended with a musical recording Angelou did with Valerie Ashford Simpson in 1996.

The service, at Wait Chapel, was a private service for family and friends that was shared with the public on television and live stream.

Angelou's son, Guy B. Johnson, plans to release information about memorials in other cities across the country.

Last week, Angelou's nurse found her dead in her home. The 86-year-old was sick for a long time.

More than 800 people attended a celebration of life service last Thursday at her church, Mt. Zion Baptist in Winston-Salem.

Angelou was an award-winning writer best known for "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".


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