In her will, Dr. Maya Angelou had requested that her public memorial service be held at a church, and in a city, that she loved: Glide Memorial in San Francisco. The service happened yesterday and was attended by over 1,000 admirers and friends, and featured remarks by Mayor Ed Lee, Angelou spoke often at the church over the years, most recently in May 2012.
Angelou died at age 86 last month, and was given a private memorial service attended by Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and other dignitaries and friends last weekend at Wake Forest University. But she was a longtime member of Glide Memorial Church, and always had a special place in her heart for San Francisco, so she had made the stipulation that a public memorial be held there after her death.
As the Chronicle reports, Lee's son, Guy Johnson, spoke and recalled how his mother said, "There is no failure as long as you learn from your experiences and you continue to work." Congresswoman Barbara Lee called her "a great warrior woman, and a great truth teller" who supported her after her controversial vote against military intervention following September 11th.
Former mayor Willie Brown got some laughs telling the audience that every time he saw Angelou, "she reminded me of what I was doing wrong." Mayor Ed Lee stumbled a bit in his remarks, referred to her as the "first African American ... female streetcar driver," in the city, but as we learned earlier she was likely the first African American woman conductor, at the age of 16.
At least 1,000 people packed into Glide on Sunday, with about 500 more watching via a video screen outside the church.
Closing out the ceremony was Valerie Simpson, of the 70s recording duo Ashford & Simpson, singing an impromptu rendition of "Walk Around Heaven All Day."
See a few more photos below.
Full house and standing ovation at Glide for start of celebration of Maya Angelou's life pic.twitter.com/nnOM3YjA9j— Christie Smith (@christies_nbc) June 15, 2014
"We are drawn together again by Maya Angelou - The spirit of Maya is with us" - Rev Cecil Williams pic.twitter.com/yghAK59E3b— GLIDE (@GLIDEsf) June 15, 2014