Celebrating the Life of Maya Angelou

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  • She had the high honor of being the first woman and first African American to recite a poem at a Presidential Inauguration.
  • Anyone who is interested in African American literature has read the works of Maya Angelou who was born Marguerite Johnson in Missouri in 1928.
  • She evolved into a civil rights advocate where in 1959 she was appointed the northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership by Dr. Martin Luther King.
  • Maya Angelou’s civil rights work took her to Ghana in West Africa at the height of the African independence from colonialism and the transition to independence. Where she was  feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana from 1964-1966.
  • In 1982 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  • It does not matter what you believe if you do not have the courage to stand up for what you believe. Maya Angelou at a University Forum.
  •  In 2010 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
  • The first black woman director in Hollywood.
  • Her documentary Afro-Americans in the Arts,” won her the Golden Eagle Award.

 

One of her best work was the poem entitled “Still i Rise”
Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014
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.
Source: Random House Publishing of Maya Angelou Works

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