Michelle Obama on Maya Angelou: "She Celebrated Black Women's Beauty"

At today's memorial service for poet Dr. Maya Angelou, former president Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama were among the guests who paid tribute to the legendary figure. The First Lady talked poignantly about her friend and the influence Angelou's poem "Phenomenal Woman" had on her as a child.

Obama began her tribute at Wake Forest University's chapel with a few jokes, then called Angelou "one of the greatest spirits the world has ever known."

As the Associated Press reported this morning, she spoke to a lively room that was "filled with tears, laughter, poetry and gospel singing."

"She celebrated black women's beauty like no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace," Obama told the audience, seated in wooden pews. "Her words were clever and sassy. They were powerful and sexual and boastful."

Oprah Winfrey, who also paid respects to the poet at her service, remarked, "I cannot fill her shoes, but I can walk in her footsteps."

The full remarks of Winfrey and Obama can be both watched and read here.

Maya Angelou died on May 28 at age 86.

[Image via AP]