Posted: Sunday 8th June 2014 at 14:06 pm

Maya Angelou remembered at memorial service


The family, friends and famous admirers of US author and activist Maya Angelou have held a private memorial service in her honour in North Carolina.

US First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and media mogul Oprah Winfrey were among the speakers.

Mrs Obama said her words sustained her through life, carrying “a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House”.

Angelou died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, last week, aged 86.

Mr Clinton praised Angelou for her belief in dignity, love and kindness, and spoke of a time in Angelou’s childhood when “she could not speak”.

Mrs Obama said Angelou’s words sustained her throughout her life

“And then she developed the greatest voice on the planet,” he said. “God loaned her His voice. She had the voice of God, and He decided he wanted it back for a while.”

Angelou wrote the poem On the Pulse of Morning and read it at Mr Clinton’s first presidential inauguration in 1993.

Mourners arrive at Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University, to attend the memorial

The service was held at Wake Forest University’s chapel in Winston-Salem, where Angelou taught for three decades.

The family has asked the public to make donations to the  Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity  in lieu of bringing flowers to the campus.

Angelou wrote more than 30 books including her famous memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which charted a childhood of oppression and abuse in the Deep South in the 1930s.

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