Seating will be limited for Maya Angelou’s private memorial service at the campus of Wake Forest University on Saturday, officials said. But in another sense, the entire world has been invited — the proceedings will be live-streamed, the North Carolina university announced this week.
Angelou, the author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and many other works, died last week at the age of 86. She taught at Wake Forest for more than three decades. The Angelou family has organized a closed service in the campus’ Wait Chapel, to be attended only by family and friends. But the live-stream coverage will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday on the university’s website.
Local media reported that Angelou's friend Oprah Winfrey was at Wake Forest earlier this week to help organize the service.
“Oprah and a handful of others were in Wait Chapel for at least a half-hour,” Fox affiliate WGHP in Winston-Salem reported Monday. “They discussed seating arrangements, where the family will watch from and how the chapel will be decorated.”
Winfrey tweeted on Sunday night that she was at Angelou’s home in North Carolina "sitting [at her] kitchen table."
A digital guestbook page created by the university contains comments by many former students of Angelou.
“I had a turbulent undergraduate experience,” wrote one former student, now a PhD candidate. “Meeting you during my undergraduate tenure gave me the strength to stay the course… In my darkest hours, I have turned to your words for comfort and inspiration."
The Angelou family will be planning additional celebrations of her life in other cities across the country, university officials said. Her son, Guy B. Johnson, will release information about these destinations at a later date.
Wait Chapel seats more than 2,000 people and hosted presidential debates in 1988 and 2000.