Maya Angelou was an African-American Poet, Singer and Civil Rights Activist. (1928 – 2014) I remember her most for 2 poems that she wrote. “Still I Rise” and “I know why the Caged Bird Sings” about her experiences in life. Both are very powerful pieces of poetry. I thought I’d share this poem “Still I Rise” for anyone that may not have heard of her.
Maya Angelou is a great inspiration and beacon of light for anyone that goes against the grain. For anyone feeling persecuted because of their ethnicity, Still I Rise speaks of rising over adversity and reclaiming your power.
Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the dirt
But still, like dust, I rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes, springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes.
You may kill me with your fatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave,
Maya Angelou’s other famous poem is called “Caged Bird” and frequently referred to caged birds as metaphors for slavery and oppression in her writing.
Angelou’s life and work served as inspiration to countless people all over the world to refuse to accept defeat and to keep striving for justice.
“The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.
The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic admiration.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings