Poet Sonia Sanchez of Germantown held back tears as she spoke about the gracefulness of children’s author and former Temple University PASCEP director Muriel Feelings.
Sanchez was one of the five speakers who gave remarks at the “Celebration of Life” memorial service for Feelings held at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church East, 230 W. Coulter Ave. on Friday, Oct. 7 at 11 a.m.
The other speakers included Gwen Watson, who volunteered side by side with Feelings in Enon’s African History Ministry, and family friend and Enon member Earl Harris. Feelings’ cousin, Rabiah Asur, then introduced the late author’s best friend, Jackie Mungai, before Willie Rogers, one of the founders of PASCEP (originally an acronym for Pan-African Students Community Education Program).
“She understood what it means to be human,” said Sanchez in her eulogizing poetry. She called Feelings “pretty, smart, religious, holy” while at the same time being the phenomenal “writer, mother, poet, friend” to so many. She said that she wrote words “that changed the world” while caring for her family which included her sons, Zamani and Kamili.
“I worked with her for 15 years,” said Rogers in his remarks. He said that Feelings had a soft-spoken way of asserting herself. He recalled that rather than lecture or berate her employees she would often ask them questions so that they would come to the conclusion she was steering them towards. “She has a kind of humble strength,” Rogers said.
Mungai, referred to as Feelings’ “sister friend,” probably knew her best. She called Feelings “a healer” because of the way she would minister to others in need. Watson said the ministry developed an acronym for Muriel as maternal, understanding, relentless/reflective, impressive, enlightened and loving (agape). “She leaves a legacy,” said Harris.
The eulogy was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor of Enon. He said that many alluded to Feelings’ “quiet strength” and that her legacy was her “moral legacy.” He said that Feelings was not prideful or arrogant and was cognizant of the fact “we pull up people to humility.”
Feelings served as director and coordinator of education and coordinator of volunteers at the African American Museum in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1985. She served as director of PASCEP from 1986 to 2001. She is the author of numerous award-winning children’s books including “Zamani Goes to Market,” “Moja Means One: A Swahili Counting Book” and “Jambo Means Hello: A Swahili Alphabet Book.”