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Maya Angelou remembered

Famous writers
Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

The world has lost one of the most influential writers of all time. Maya Angelou was not only a remarkable poet, she was a woman that did not let circumstances or limitations define who she was destined to become. Her writings moved millions and the insight and wisdom she left behind is timeless.

Family, friends and famous admirers led by former president, Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey gathered in a chapel at Wake Forest University on Saturday to remember Angelou who died May 28 at age 86 after a remarkable life with important roles in civil rights and the arts.

Tall and majestic, Angelou gave life to her 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".

Bill 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 or that was buried, something in your heart you were afraid to face."

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."

Maya 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 helped Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Poor People's March in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was slain on Angelou's 40th birthday.

Raped by her mother's boyfriend at age eight, Maya did not speak for five years. When Angelou finally spoke, she inspired a nation.

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