Hillary Clinton among speakers at Angelou memorial

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Hillary Clinton among speakers at Angelou memorial
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, author Maya Angelou delivers a tribute to South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the State Department in Washington. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison were among the expected speakers at a tribute to Maya Angelou, the author, poet and stage performer who died earlier this year. The event was to be held Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 at The Riverside Church in Manhattan, a few blocks west of a Harlem town house Angelou owned in recent years. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In a Feb. 15, 2011 file photo, President Barack Obama kisses author and poet Maya Angelou after awarding her the 2010 Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will be blended with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.” The album is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she passed in May, her grandson Colin A. Johnson said in an interview Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Sara Bareilles performs on stage while an image of Maya Angelou appears during an in memorium tribute at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Phylicia Rashad speaks on stage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. Pictured on screen is Maya Angelou. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
A bouquet of flowers and a magazine showing Maya Angelou on the cover lie outside a gate at the home of Angelou in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Angelou, a Renaissance woman and cultural pioneer, has died, Wake Forest University said in a statement Wednesday. She was 86. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Maya Angelou, poet in residence at Wake Forest University, talks about the poem she wrote for President Clinton's inauguration from her office in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 16, 1996. Angelou will narrate the poem to music Saturday at the school. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
8th April 1978: American poet and author Maya Angelou gestures while speaking in a chair during an interview at her home. (Photo by Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
American writer and poet Maya Angelou in New York City, April 1994. (Photo by Michael Brennan/Getty Images)
American poet and writer Maya Angelou shown on Dec. 15, 1992 in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY - Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/AP Images for National Portrait Gallery)
Dr. Maya Angelou speaks on race relations at Congregation B’nai Israel and Ebenezer Baptist Church on January 16, 2014 in Boca Raton, Florida.(Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this May 20, 2010 file photo, poet and author Maya Angelou smiles at a garden party at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. Angelou's latest book, memoir "Mom & Me & Mom," is a sweet ode to "Lady," her mother Vivian Baxter, and "Momma," her paternal grandmother Annie Henderson. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, file)
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, poet Maya Angelou is shown in Washington. Angelou will not attend the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon where she will be honored due to issues with her health. Major League Baseball announced Friday, May 23, 2014 because of “health reasons” the 86-year-old won’t make it to the May 30 event in Houston before the annual Civil Rights Game. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert,File)
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., right, and poet Maya Angelou, left, acknowledge the crowd during a campaign stop at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., Friday, April 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Writer Maya Angelou sautes some onions and peppers in the kitchen of the Sugar Bar restaurant Monday, Sept. 29, 1997, in New York, where she spent the day cooking a meal as a guest chef for a benefit dinner later in the evening. Proceeds from the five course dinner she prepared were to be donated to the Betty Shabazz Foundation. (AP Photo/Rob Schoenbaum)
Newly sworn-in U.S. President Bill Clinton reaches out to hug poet Maya Angelou after she delivered her inaugural poem on the west steps of the Capitol during inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 1993. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Coretta Scott King, left, widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and poet Maya Angelou leave New York's Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx section of New York on Monday, June 2, 1997, after they prayed at Betty Shabazz's bedside. Betty Shabazz is in critical condition with third degree burns over 80 percent of her body after being injured Sunday in an early morning fire of suspicious origin in her Yonkers apartment.(AP Photo/David Karp)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a tribute to Maya Angelou at The Riverside Church in Manhattan, Friday Sept. 12, 2014 in New York. Family and friends filled the church to remember Angelou, the author, poet and stage performer who died earlier this year. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a tribute to Maya Angelou at The Riverside Church in Manhattan, Friday Sept. 12, 2014 in New York. Family and friends filled the church to remember Angelou, the author, poet and stage performer who died earlier this year. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY - Left to right, Johnnetta Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey pose for a photo backstage at Maya Angelou's portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/AP Images for National Portrait Gallery)
President Barack Obama kisses author and poet Maya Angelou after awarding her the 2010 Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First lady Michelle Obama applauds to BET honoree poet Maya Angelou after receiving the Literary Arts Award during the BET Honors, at right Willow Smith looks on at the Warner Theatre in Washington on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Maya Angelou, left, Alicia Keys and Oprah Winfrey share laughs during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Chicago. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is ending its run May 25, after 25 years, and millions of her fans around the globe are waiting to see how she will close out a show that spawned a media empire. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Maya Angelou, left, and Oprah Winfrey share laughs during a star-studded double-taping of "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Chicago. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is ending its run May 25, after 25 years, and millions of her fans around the globe are waiting to see how she will close out a show that spawned a media empire. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, is framed in the center of a wreath as he listens to poet Maya Angelou perform a poem during the dedication ceremony for the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York, Friday Oct. 5, 2007. The ceremony came more than 16 years after the burial ground was rediscovered during excavations for a federal building in 1991. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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By HILLEL ITALIE

NEW YORK (AP) - It was New York's turn to say goodbye to Maya Angelou.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison were among those sharing memories of the late author and Renaissance woman artist Friday at The Riverside Church in Manhattan, a few blocks west of a Harlem town house that Angelou owned in recent years.

From a stage brightened by beds of white roses, it was a chance for friends and family members to pay tribute before hundreds of attendees and for the city itself to claim at least part of her legacy.

Angelou, who died May 28 at age 86, had lived off and on in New York in the 1950s and '60s and visited often even after she moved to North Carolina, her primary residence over the latter half of her life. As a New Yorker, she appeared in numerous stage productions, was a member of the Harlem Writers Guild and directed the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

New York was the "center of her universe," said Howard Dodson Jr., director emeritus of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to which Angelou donated her papers. From the city, she "radiated out to the world" and the world responded in kind. The program was organized by the Schomburg Center, The Riverside Church and Angelou's longtime publisher, Random House.

In June, Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, was a featured speaker at a memorial held at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where Angelou taught for 30 years. Hillary Clinton recalled on Friday that Angelou had encouraged her husband to run for president back in the early 1990s. She made no reference to a possible campaign for herself in 2016, but noted that Angelou had been supportive of her run in 2008, when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York was defeated in the Democratic primary by Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton said she first learned of Angelou through her celebrated memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which came out in 1970. She read the book over and over and gave it to her mother, who, like Angelou, had been sent off as a little girl to live with her grandmother. She described Angelou's life as so vast that anyone could relate to it.

"You're Italian? Maya spoke Italian. You're a dancer? So was she. You're from San Francisco? She conducted a street car there," Clinton said. "She knew everyone, lived everywhere, read everything and felt it all."

Morrison, a friend of Angelou's for more than 40 years, said that her private generosity was even "more noteworthy" than her public achievements. She noted her respect for the "server and served," the humble and the elite. She remembered her laugh, her smile, the holding of hands, with "no words, no winks, no nods." And she was grateful for Angelou's "soothing voice, on the telephone, at the exact moment when you needed it most."

"Maya Angelou was the first non-family member to call me out of the blue when my son (Slade) died (in 2010)," said Morrison, who last fall presented Angelou an honorary National Book Award. "We had a short, poignant conversation. I was surprised, and I was thrilled, and I was calmed by that call."

The event also featured Angelou's grandson, Colin Ashanti Johnson; her Random House editor, Robert Loomis; a gospel quartet, the Brown Sisters; and a recording of Angelou's voice during Valerie Simpson's spirited performance of "I'm Every Woman," which Simpson helped write. The poet Nikki Giovanni began her brief recitation by asking "What makes a life extraordinary?"

Laughing when scared

Singing when lonely

Loving when abandoned

Yet

Never turning away from the future

Never ceasing to be better

Never shying away from the difficult, the dangerous , the delicate chores of living

that make a life extraordinary

that makes, for all of us, a Maya.


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