Still I Rise Maya Angelou

‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll 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 like 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.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Today is a sad for the African American community and America we have lost the one and only Maya Angelou she was a national treasure. Angelou was a beloved author, poet, and writer former President Bill Clinton loved her so much he had asked her to present a poem at his inauguration in 1993. Born as Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928 she endured many advertises in her youth. She was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend at the age of eight she confided in her brother and he told the rest of the family. Following this experience she was mute and believed her voice killed the man because he was murdered after his release from jail.  After the death of her mother's boyfriend Maya and her brother were sent to live with their grandmother.

This experience became a  positive influence on her life Angelou often credited a teacher and friend of family Mrs, Berta Flowers, who helped her speak again. In addition to this Flowers introduced to her authors and literature from Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and James Weldon Johnson to name a few.  Three black female artists such as Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset.  By the time she was 14 she moved back in with her mother and they relocated to Oakland, California and she attended George Washington High School where she studied drama and dance. She had her son named Clyde at the age of 17.

Maya's early adult life was full of challenges she worked many odd jobs to survive and raise her son such as business manager for prostitutes, restaurant cook, night club singer and dancer. From 1954-1955 she toured Europe performing in the production of Porgy and Bess. She began to become proficient in the languages of all the countries she visited.  By the 1960s she became active in social and political causes such as the Civil Rights Movement, Anti-Apartheid, and Pro-Castro. She was a friend and ally to both Malcolm X and Dr. King.

By 1969 her first autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is published and received critical acclaim and the rest is history.  The poem above is one her most noted works and my mother shared this poem with me when I was nine years old, my mother often said this poem had words of encouragement as tears rolled down her face. Her 86 years on this Earth was a gift to the world rest in peace Dr. Angelou.


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