More than 3,000 people gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Thursday to celebrate Toni Morrison, a giant of American literature whose work won acclaim for its groundbreaking style and complex exploration of black American identity.

Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Edwidge Danticat and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among other speakers from the worlds of literature, journalism and the arts, shared memories of their time with Morrison and her impact on their work and lives.

“She took the canon and broke it open,” said Winfrey, who selected many of Morrison’s novels for her book club…