Hillary Clinton's Tribute to 'Extraordinary' Writer Maya Angelou

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"She urged, demanded, inspired millions of Americans to live kinder, braver, more honorable lives."

That's how Hillary Clinton paid tribute to poetic luminary Maya Angelou today at a memorial ceremony in New York's Riverside Church.

Angelou, 86, died this past May.

"When I ran for president, which I did a few years ago, her encouragement meant so much to me," the former Secretary of State said to a ripple of laughter.

"She didn't hesitate to tell you when she thought you were wrong, or being thoughtless or arrogant, and she did not suffer fools. So when she said that she believed in you, you actually believed her and began believing in yourself," she added.

Clinton, who is mulling another stab at the presidency in 2016, recalled a few lines of the poem Angelou penned in support of Clinton during her 2008 campaign:

"There is a world of difference between being a woman and a being an old female.

If you're born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter."

In Angelou's autobiography, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," a coming-of-age story recounting her struggles with early-life trauma and prejudice, Clinton said she saw traces of her own mother's difficult past.

Angelou "was often slotted into subcategories as writers wrote about her: an African American writer, a civil rights activist, a woman's leader. … But in truth, she transcended all labels. There is, however, one label that does stick," Clinton said. "She could have been born anywhere in the world, but I believe only in America could she have become who she did."

"Our country's struggles and triumphs and progress over the past century are written all over her life," she added. "Indeed, she helped to write them."