I still cannot believe that Maya Angelou is gone. I can barely keep up with the passing of our matriarchs and patriarchs who through art, protest, words and actions provided a reference point for nobility, strength and courage.
Maya did for me what she did for many Black girls, she gave me a feeling of belonging. I was so excited when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I cherished every word and syllable, explored the world with Maya, a woman who had overcome odds and challenges and maintained her stride with grace and elegance.
I post her poem here, And Still I Rise, because some days it’s like that old Gospel song, it gets inside you and reminds you that you never walk alone!
Still I Rise
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 backyard. 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. http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-i-rise