Maya Angelou, the beloved American author and poet, was memorialized on Saturday by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Angelou, who died last week at the age of 86, was honored in front of her home in Harlem with a morning service. According to the New York Daily News, Reverend Sharpton placed a wreath of pink roses and white hydrangeas at the steps of Maya’s home at W. 120th Street.
He said at the service:
“Maya didn’t come from the ground by being dropped from the sky, she came from the ground up to the sky… As we put this wreath here, we make the eternal commitment that Maya Angelou will never be dead in Harlem. Maya Angelou will always live in Harlem.”
Maya Angelou also had a home in North Carolina, which is where she passed away, but she bought a place in Harlem in 2004 to entertain guests and other celebrities.
Official funeral arrangements were still pending as of Saturday, but Al Sharpton also dedicated an entire service to Maya Angelou at the National Action Network. He read a poem of Maya’s published in 1978 titled “Still I Rise.”
The New York Daily News reported that another resident of Harlem and a close neighbor of Angelou spoke of the poet and the power her words had on people, “I was so fascinated with ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I just loved her. I enjoyed her ability to reach within her soul and pull out the best of her to give to us.”
According to The Guardian, Maya Angelou was a caring and open-hearted egalitarian of race, gender and sexual orientation. Maya once said, “I have daughters who are black and white, Asian and Spanish-speaking, and native American. I have daughters who are fat and thin, pretty and plain, gay and straight. I have all sorts of daughters who I just claim. And they claim me.”
The Guardian goes on to to explain the impact Angelou had on America through her literature, especially through the volumes of her autobiographies. Many young girls were named after Maya Angelou in honor of what she stood for, including President Barack Obama’s sister.
Despite Maya’s tolerance (or perhaps because of it) her funeral is at risk of being picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist religious organization that tends to protest funerals of people they think condone homosexual lifestyles.
But it’s likely that the protest won’t keep people from honoring Angelou and celebrating the life she led.
[Image courtesy of Go Women Africa]