The Warmest of Tributes


First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at the Memorial Service for Dr Maya Angelou

Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  My heart is so full.  My heart is so full.  Bebe — Oprah, why did you do that?  Just why did you put me after this?  (Laughter.)

To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young — let me just share something with you.  My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do.  (Laughter.)  But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you’re going, aren’t you?  I said, well, Mom, I’m not really sure, I have to check with my schedule.  She said, you are going, right?  (Laughter.)  I said, well, I’m going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out.  I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy.  (Laughter.)


It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.

In the Book of Psalms it reads:  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth.”  What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.

She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine.   And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.

The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman”, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before.  (Applause.)  Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace.  Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful.  And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.

And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message.  As a young woman, I needed that message.  As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie.  (Laughter.)  That was the standard for perfection.  That was what the world told me to aspire to.  But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.

Her message was very simple.  She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say.  Instead, she said, “Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”  She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.

Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my journey –- through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers; through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls; through long years on the campaign trail where, at times, my very womanhood was dissected and questioned.  For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words –- words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House.  (Applause.)

And today, as First Lady, whenever the term “authentic” is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou.  But really, I’m just a beginner — I am baby-authentic.  (Laughter.)  Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master.  For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely passionate, unapologetic self.  She was comfortable in every last inch of her glorious brown skin.

But for Dr. Angelou, her own transition was never enough.  You see, she didn’t just want to be phenomenal herself, she wanted all of us to be phenomenal right alongside her.  (Applause.)  So that’s what she did throughout her lifetime -– she gathered so many of us under her wing.  I wish I was a daughter, but I was right under that wing sharing her wisdom, her genius, and her boundless love.

I first came into her presence in 2008, when she spoke at a campaign rally here in North Carolina.  At that point, she was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank to help her breathe.  But let me tell you, she rolled up like she owned the place.  (Laughter.)  She took the stage, as she always did, like she’d been born there.  And I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence I could barely concentrate on what she was saying to me.

But while I don’t remember her exact words, I do remember exactly how she made me feel.  (Applause.)  She made me feel like I owned the place, too.  She made me feel like I had been born on that stage right next to her.  And I remember thinking to myself, “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me.  So, now I’m good.  I can do this.  I can do this.”  (Applause.)

And that’s really true for us all, because in so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us.  She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our fear, our anger, our shame.  And she assured us that despite it all –- in fact, because of it all -– we were good.  And in doing so, she paved the way for me and Oprah and so many others just to be our good, old, black-woman selves.  (Applause.)

She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us.  (Applause.)  And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings.  She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is –- your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.

(Dr Angelou’s final tweet)

That was Maya Angelou’s reach.  She touched me.  She touched all of you.  She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States.  (Applause.)

So when I heard that Dr. Angelou had passed, while I felt a deep sense of loss, I also felt a profound sense of peace.  Because there is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us, because there was something truly divine about Maya.  I know that now, as always, she is right where she belongs.

May her memory be a blessing to us all.  Thank you.  God bless.  (Applause.)



102 Responses to “The Warmest of Tributes”

  1. June 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    And still I rise. . .

  2. 8 GGAIL
    June 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Chips ❤

  3. 14 jacquelineoboomer
    June 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Wonderful day, wonderful tributes, wonderful lady.

    You, too, Chips!

    • June 7, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      —-> {{{{{Jacqueline}}}}} Still choked up, what a completely beautiful tribute by the First Lady.

      • June 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm

        FLOTUS went beyond her most extraordinary self. I can still see her hand lift up to make that particular important point. Just as POTUS did when speaking at that seismic moment at the 2004 Democratic convention.

      • 17 Nerdy Wonka
        June 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm

        Thanks so much for this tribute, Chiparoo.

        • June 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm

          A pleasure Nerdy, thank *you* for your wonderful tweeting today, you captured all the First Lady’s most poignant words so beautifully.

  4. 19 Dudette
    June 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you Chips!

  5. 21 carolyn
    June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you for the transcript, Chips. I could hear FLOTUS’ voice as I read it, but I love reading, so that was my choice. Now, I can keep it to re-read.

  6. 22 Ladyhawke
    June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm


    Listen: Dr. Maya Angelou Recites Her Poem “Phenomenal Woman”


  7. June 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute! Maya Angelou will always be THAT ‘Phenomenal Woman’ to me 🙂

    I went searching for this wonderful gem – FLOTUS honoring her at the BET Honors:


  8. 30 jackiegrumbacher
    June 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I am blown away by Michelle Obama. She’s simply luminous and shines with the kind of truthfulness she just described about Dr. Angelou. It’s easy to understand that Maya Angelou “knew her” because they share the same spirit and she was recognizing a similar soul. I think that Maya Angelou is smiling today and saying to our FLOTUS, “you did well, daughter.”

  9. 42 MadameSoph
    June 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Been working today and just had a chance to listen to our First Lady’s tribute to Dr. Angelou. My eyes are filled with joyful tears. What a moving, heartfelt, REAL tribute and how beautifully she delivered it. Maya Angelou was one of my favorite poets and people. She inspired me and moved me whenever I heard her speak or read her words.

    This one got the waterworks flowing:
    “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me. So, now I’m good. I can do this. I can do this.”

    You see, THIS is how I feel whenever I hear President Obama and our First Lady speak. I feel like they KNOW – like they are one of us. When PBO speaks, all my anxiety and fear melts away and I feel in my heart: he’s got this and if he’s cool, I can be cool.

    Thank you Chips for posting both the text and the clip. It’s good to be able to appreciate the words in written form as well.

    May the veil between the worlds part today so that the beautiful soul that we called Dr. Maya Angelou can experience the outpouring of love in her honor.

  10. June 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Chips and our twitter gurus is there a possibility for you guys to twit these pictures from Normandy showing this veterans interreaction with our President and caption it ” Things you won’t see in MSM and Fox news” and we can retwitt the heck out of it

  11. June 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Oh, my!

  12. 48 Bill R.
    June 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Today our FLOTUS honors a Great Soul. It is important to honor the more visible ones like Maya Angelou as examples to encourage us in our life. We should consider that that there are many Great Souls in our life and we should honor recognize those less visible who encompass and touch us. They encourage us in being keepers of the Light and that great endeavor of sharing our light with one another. Maya Angelou’s last tweet, ” Listen to yourself in the quietude and you may hear the voice of God” speaks to me. I teach meditation to other people as well as being a practitioner for 44 years. When people just get quiet and sink into the sacred space of their own heart, wondrous things happen. Clearly Maya Angelou had her own way of doing that.

    • 49 MadameSoph
      June 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Bill R.,

      Anch’io insegno meditazione (e lo yoga)!

      Per te 🙂 :

      “Ascolta te stesso e in quella quiete potrai udire la voce di Dio”.

      • 50 Bill R.
        June 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

        Ah, complimenti, e’ un lavoro del cuore. Mi hai fatto un gran piacere di trovare qualcun’altra che parla la lingua italiana.

        • 51 MadameSoph
          June 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm

          Yay! Ho notato che qualche volta scrivi “buon giorno” etc. 🙂

          Sei un madrelingua?

  13. 52 Cindy
    June 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm


    Thank you for dreaming of a place where a global community could come to, and celebrate the same truths; “It Is Time For Change.”

    Thank you for not only daring to dream but to trust your dream to become reality (TOD).

    Thank you for envisioning a place, where hate would not be welcomed, and giving us terms to agree to disagree respectfully, while supporting the same cause; Senator Barack H. Obama will be our President.

    Thank you for giving of yourself unselfishly; allowing others to take the reign and showcase their talents, in contributing to this “BEAUTIFUL” place called, The Obama Diary.

    My heart is full; filled with joy, that this “BEAUTIFUL” place takes so much time to honor and celebrate our African American celebrities, heroes, and those who have been forgotten in history.

    Thank you for this “safe haven” that we can come to, and prepare ourselves for the battles ahead; to move us from an ugly hate filled America, to the United States of America where justice really is for “all” Americans.

    May you always be blessed by the hand of God, and showered with happiness, joy, peace and above all, love.

    Dr. Maya Angelou

    A Brave and Startling Truth

    We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
    Traveling through casual space
    Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
    To a destination where all signs tell us
    It is possible and imperative that we learn
    A brave and startling truth

    And when we come to it
    To the day of peacemaking
    When we release our fingers
    From fists of hostility
    And allow the pure air to cool our palms

    When we come to it
    When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
    And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
    When battlefields and coliseum
    No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
    Up with the bruised and bloody grass
    To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

    When the rapacious storming of the churches
    The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
    When the pennants are waving gaily
    When the banners of the world tremble
    Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

    When we come to it
    When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
    And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
    When land mines of death have been removed
    And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
    When religious ritual is not perfumed
    By the incense of burning flesh
    And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
    By nightmares of abuse

    When we come to it
    Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
    With their stones set in mysterious perfection
    Nor the Gardens of Babylon
    Hanging as eternal beauty
    In our collective memory
    Not the Grand Canyon
    Kindled into delicious color
    By Western sunsets

    Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
    Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
    Stretching to the Rising Sun
    Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
    Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
    These are not the only wonders of the world

    When we come to it
    We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
    Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
    Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
    We, this people on this mote of matter
    In whose mouths abide cankerous words
    Which challenge our very existence
    Yet out of those same mouths
    Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
    That the heart falters in its labor
    And the body is quieted into awe

    We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
    Whose hands can strike with such abandon
    That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
    Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
    That the haughty neck is happy to bow
    And the proud back is glad to bend
    Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
    We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

    When we come to it
    We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
    Created on this earth, of this earth
    Have the power to fashion for this earth
    A climate where every man and every woman
    Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
    Without crippling fear

    When we come to it
    We must confess that we are the possible
    We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
    That is when, and only when
    We come to it.

    Maya Angelou

    • 53 Dudette
      June 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      So much THISSSSSSSSSS, it’s about to bust outta me!

    • 56 sjterrid
      June 7, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      Oh, Cindy thank you so much for this. What a beautiful tribute to Chips, TOD, and Dr. Maya Angelou.

      • 57 Cindy
        June 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm

        Wishing you a BEAUTIFUL Saturday sjterrid!

        Thank you for the kind words.

        Our tomorrows are never promised, so I prefer to give my flowers while we are still here : )

        Have a wonderful Saturday evening………

    • 59 GGAIL
      June 7, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      Cindy, I had finally got my tears under control and here you come. I’m trying to say thanks thru blury tears in my eyes.

      • 60 Cindy
        June 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        Happy BEAUTIFUL Saturday to you GGAIL! Now don’t you go and do that……now you are turning on my faucet again.

        I have cried so much this week; thru the good, bad, and ugly and back again for today’s beauty.

        Thank you my friend………….
        Wishing you a WONDERFUL Saturday evening.

  14. June 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Negotiations with Iran are advancing quickly with meetings set for Monday and Tuesday in Geneva.

  15. June 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful and truly great lady. I want to thank our very own phenomenal woman Ms. Chips and all the phenomenal people that contribute, educate, fellowship, and give so much of themselves at TOD. Thank you Ms. Chips for creating a wonderful place for us to come each day and all day to lift our souls and heal us from the poisonous media pundits and GOP thugs who wake each day to bring us down. Thank you everyone who posted their thoughts, prayers, of how Dr. Maya Angelou has touched their lives over the years and maybe even today. Dr. Angelou will be touching lives of as long as this earth continues to spin. Thank you also for yesterdays tribute of 70 yrs D-Day celebration and highlighting our President’s trip, speech, and the celebration of those brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those that lived to remember that we are not celebrating war but to remind us that peace and freedom is not free and must be protected so that we do not need to send our sons and daughters to the battle field for something that others have sacrificed on their behalf.

  16. June 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    FYI –

    The Democratic National Committee announced on Saturday that six cities are bidding to host the party’s convention in 2016:

    Birmingham, Ala
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Columbus, Ohio
    New York, NY
    Philadelphia, Pa
    Phoenix, AZ

    • 67 Dudette
      June 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      Yep, just saw the email from DWS in my inbox.

      They can just go ahead and drop Phoenix and Birmingham from contention with a quickness. No more conventions in anti-union cities. Period!

    • 69 sjterrid
      June 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      I saw that email, too. I deleted it, because it annoyed me that the President got home only yesterday after having a great week in Europe and she emails about the 2016 convention.

  17. June 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

  18. 73 Dudette
    June 7, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Y’all really should see this slideshow. It’s so heart-warming to the people who took this young lady under their wingt!
    Hats off to Rachel and her mentors including Joy-Ann Reid.


  19. June 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    This photo is so emblematic of who PBO is:

    • 75 Dudette
      June 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      That’s our guy! I love My POTUS!

      • 76 Cindy
        June 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        Dudette! You are a “Phenomenal Woman” my friend.

        Thank you for posting Legend’s Ball; truly enjoyed it.
        Thank you for bringing us so much beauty when we have often forgotten it.

        You are a…………. “Phenomenal…………..Woman.”

        • 77 Dudette
          June 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm

          Aw, thank you Cindy. You and every one of our fellow TODers make this a space for a phenomenal family.
          Mama Chips brought us all together to celebrate and share. I’m just glad to be here with you.

    • 78 theo67
      June 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Respect. Both ways.

    • 80 GGAIL
      June 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      I am not surprised, but pleased as punch that he makes the time!

    • 81 Nena20409
      June 7, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Humility and Humble. Per Dr. Maya Angelou the former is the Genuine creed…..paraphrasing. This president has Total Class and Character as a Human being.

    • 82 sjterrid
      June 7, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks for posting this picture, Meta. When I was going through Pete’s pictures, I saw this and thought how it illustrates what kind of person he is. He really cares about getting to meet every day people. No wonder Washington & New York find him unapproachable. He’s not a phony.

  20. 83 andogriff
    June 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you, Ms Chips… for this transcript, and for the beautiful photos of this ceremony. Our First Lady has delivered such a glorious tribute, still weeping here.

  21. 84 vcprezofan2
    June 7, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Did you guys talk about the First ever White House Maker Faire on a day I wasn’t paying attention? It’s coming soon (June 18) and I haven’t made anything yet, because I wasn’t aware of this! Anyone here getting involved?

    Like OK Go, the President is fired up about hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire, where he will celebrate America’s students and entrepreneurs who are inventing the future by using new tools and techniques to make just about anything in local communities and classrooms.

    America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs, which has fueled our economic growth. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machine tools. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and build almost anything. Across the country, vibrant grassroots communities of innovators, visionaries, and manufacturers are organizing Maker Faires, creating local makerspaces, and mentoring the next generation of inventors.

    The rise of the Maker Movement represents a huge opportunity for the United States. Nationwide, new tools for democratized production are boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in manufacturing, in the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, creating the foundation for new products and processes that can help to revitalize American manufacturing.

    Making can inspire and empower more young people to excel in design and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and to pursue careers making things in manufacturing. Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs once described the important impact that having access to an electronics kit had on him saying, “it gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment.”


    • 85 Dudette
      June 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Ooooh, I missed this awesomeness! Thanks for bring this in, vc!
      I love My POTUS!

      • 86 vcprezofan2
        June 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

        I missed it earlier too, not that I have a creative bone in my body! Are *you* a maker as well as a superb DJ?

        • 87 Dudette
          June 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm

          Girl, there’s not one iota of maker in me. I so wish there was and admire those who have that gift. 🙂

          • 88 vcprezofan2
            June 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm

            Indeed, Dudette, I do admire those who are talented this way, especially when they use their talent well. That’s one reason I admire *you* – our musically gifted DJ!

  22. 89 Nena20409
    June 7, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Good Evening TOD.

    California Chrome didn’t get the Belmont.

    Sharapova won at the French Opening.

  23. 90 vcprezofan2
    June 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Okay, I don’t usually go the ‘toons route, but I suspect some of you will find this funny.

  24. 96 Nena20409
    June 7, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Great Posts for Dr. Angelou. Job well done.

    Until her passing, I had no clue that Dr Maya Angelou had a son, let alone grand kids and great-grand children. She truly lived a Life. She spoke 6 languages. Even Wikipedia didn’t have that info. I have learned so much here about this great icon. Thanks for educating me. There is no place like TOD ❗

  25. 99 Jovie
    June 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks to Foxx news.

    • 100 jacquelineoboomer
      June 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      And thanks to John McCain and his ilk.

      • 101 99ts
        June 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

        I so lay this at the feet of the RW politicians, pundits, media and bloggers. They stir up hate against anything the President says or does. And McCain’s infatuation with the ringleader started the exercise in hate.

        • 102 jacquelineoboomer
          June 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm

          Totally agree. Cannot stand McCain and pretty much feel the same about the RWrs in general.

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