Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her life was dedicated to the betterment of humanity and society through her work during the Civil Rights movement and her unrivaled autobiographical accounts of a childhood filled with abuse. Maya’s most famous work, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, was written in 1969, and is her story about how strength of character, love and growth can overcome all adversity.
Maya passed away on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We honor the poet known for her commanding voice and way with words with this video of her reciting her poem “And Still I Rise.”
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
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.