Maya Angelou Funeral: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Poet, activist, teacher, and author Maya Angelou passed away last Wednesday in her home in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She was praised for both the works she left behind, and her interminable efforts to ensure peace and justice.

The late poet was friends with both Malcolm X and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and dedicated time to teaching America’s youth at Wake Forest University since 1982. Her family released information early Monday morning about the funeral.

The service will be a private funeral in Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel on Saturday, June 7 at 10 a.m. Read on to find out more about Maya and the wonderful legacy she left behind.

1. Her Funeral Will Take Place at Wake Forest University, Where She Taught

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Dr. Angelou was a faculty member at Wake Forest since 1982. Since seating will be limited to Angelou’s friends and family, the university will have a live broadcast for the public that can be streamed at

Angelou worked as a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest. She taught several humanities courses, some of which include “World Poetry in Dramatic Performance,” “Race, Politics and Literature,” “African Culture and Impact on U.S.,” “Race in the Southern Experience” and “Shakespeare and the Human Condition.” In 1977, she received an honorary from the university. Wake Forest’s University Webpage writes that she last taught in the summer of 2011. Since 1977, she has received over 30 honorary degrees.

The University released a statement about Angelou’s death last week.

Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest, where she served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies since 1982. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Angelou’s family and friends during this difficult time.

2. Reverend Al Sharpton Memorialized Her on Her Doorstep

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On Saturday, May 31, Reverend Al Sharpton stood on Angelou’s stoop on West 120th Street and pledged ‘eternal commitment’ to keeping Angelou’s memory alive. The Daily News reports some of Sharpton’s speech:

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.

Sharpton read one of Angelou’s poems at the service, Still I Rise.

3. The Westboro Baptist Church Plans to Picket Her Funeral

The Westboro Baptist Church, famous for its extreme ideologies and hatred of homosexuals, asked its Twitter followers for details on Angelou’s funerals. The Gleaner reported one of their Tweets:

No RIP Maya Angelou. She was a staunch devil child who esteemed the love of the world more than the honor of God.

The group is infamous for picketing large events– namely fallen soldiers funerals and LGBT events. They immediately responded to Angelou’s death by calling her a “Devil Child” and “Gay Rights Champ.”

4. Her Family Posted On Her Facebook Page Thursday Morning

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Her family released a formal statement Monday concerning her memorial service that will take place at Wake Forest University. Angelou was born in St. Louis in 1928, and was the second child of doorman Bailey Johnson, and navy dietitian Vivian Johnson. She was divorced twice, first to a man named Tosh Angelos, and then to Paul du Feu. Celebrities and politicians alike have mourned the loss of Angelou. Her agent, Helen Brann, spoke to ABC News about her client.

I spoke to her yesterday. She was fine, as she always was. Her spirit was indomitable.

5. Oprah Winfrey Will Speak at the Funeral

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Oprah Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight she will speak at the funeral this upcoming weekend. She also admitted she isn’t sure what to say.

I don’t know what I will say, but it will just come.

Oprah’s channel, OWN, has apparently altered its schedule to honor the death of Angelou. The channel intends on featuring a compilation of interviews with the author from the Oprah Winfrey Show . Oprah writes about Maya Angelou,

I’ve been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my 20s. She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher.

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