Oprah Winfrey teared up as she spoke about Maya Angelou and what the late author meant to her at a memorial held at Wake Forest University.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 7, 2014
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Winfrey was visibly emotional as she called Angelou her “spiritual queen mother.”
"The loss I feel, I cannot describe," Winfrey said, fighting back tears.
Former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke at the ceremony honoring Angelou, who died May 28, 2014 in her North Carolina home. She was 86.
According to TIME, Clinton had a special connection with Angelou and her work had a particular resonance for him. Clinton grew up in Arkansas, just like Angelou did, and the people mentioned in her work were people Clinton knew.
“I knew the people she was talking about, the problems she was documenting,” Clinton said. “Her great gift in her action-packed life is that she was always paying attention.”
Michelle Obama said that she was touched by the way Angelou paved the way for human beings to be themselves, reports E! Online.
“She showed us that eventually, if we stay true to who we are, then the world would embrace us,” Obama said. “And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings. She taught us all that it is OK to be your regular old self, whatever that is."