The passing of Dr. Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014 has had the whole world revisiting her lifetime of work. She was certainly a woman of many dimensions and full of an array of experiences many have learned from. She inspired all walks of life no matter what your race, cultural background or religious belief. She seemed to have the ability to inspire many. I personally performed one of her poems when I was in a beauty pageant many years ago. That was my first time being exposed to her work and it inspired me. It was the famous ‘Still I Rise’ (scroll down to read full poem below).
She came across as everyone’s wise grandmother later in life. But, many of this generation didn’t even realize that she was a singer, dancer and Civil Rights activist. In her passing we are now seeing images, video footage and information about all the great accomplishments in her life. But we must also remember that she had many struggles in life just like any of us. The big lesson in watching how her life unfolded is knowing that we as human beings all have our own stories to tell. We all have our own experiences that shape us into who we are. It’s how we respond and/or react that determines the final outcome. If in all things we can be thankful and use the knowledge of life’s experiences to our advantage and become better, that is when success has truly been achieved.
She may have left this world now, but her legacy and teachings will live on for generations to come.
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
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.