Black History Month Spotlight: Maya Angelou

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By: Alisa Oden

2/15/21

In honor of Black History Month, Glasgow students celebrate people who have impacted the world in which we live. Spotlight #5 is Maya Angelou.

Poet, actress, writer- Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson) was a woman of many accomplishments. She wrote dozens of poems and seven memoirs about economic, racial, and sexual oppression. As a civil rights activist she worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Some of Maya Angelou’s best works include I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, On the Pulse of Morning, and And Still I Rise.

 

And 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 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.

Maya Angelou may have died on May 28, 2018 at the age of 86, but her legacy lives on. Her words ring true even now and remind us to stay strong and rise in the face of adversity. This is especially important to Glasgow, where students of all backgrounds are inspired by Maya Angelou’s fight for social justice. Her words encourage and empower young girls, telling them that they should never let anyone make them feel ashamed of themselves. Take a look at her writing. What do her words mean to you?

 

If you want to learn more about Maya Angelou, click this link:

TIME: 5 Things to Know About Maya Angelou’s Complicated, Meaningful Life

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou 

https://www.biography.com/writer/maya-angelou 

https://poets.org/poet/maya-angelou