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Still I Arise

In: English and Literature

Submitted By jazmine1023
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“Still I Rise” An Inspiring Poem by Maya Angelou “Still I Rise”, a poem written by Maya Angleou in 1978, is a poem that demonstrates an inner strength of determination in accomplishing and overcoming obstacles in life. “Still I Rise”, and other poems created by Maya Angelou, may offer inspiring words of encouragement for many individuals who may be dealing with certain difficult situations in their life. Maya Angelou was born in 1928 in St. Louis Missouri. At a very young age she experienced a very traumatic experience that inspired her to become the person that she is today.
During the time that her parents decided to end their marriage, she went to reside with her mother. While residing with her mother, she was sexually assaulted and raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Maya Angelou was scared, hurt, and humiliated. Not knowing where else to turn, she informed her brother of the incident. Upon hearing this, he decided it was best to inform their family. Her mother’s boyfriend was sent to jail; however, he was killed shortly after his release. When Maya Angelou found out about the death of her mother’s boyfriend, she became withdrawn and stopped speaking or talking for several years. She began to blame herself for what had happened to her mother’s boyfriend, because she felt that due to her telling what happened resulted in his death. As time passed, Maya Angelou went to reside with her grandmother. She was embraced by a close family friend who encouraged her to talk again. This new friendship inspired her. She began to draw her attention towards several famous writers who had created various forms of poetry. The friendship that she developed with Malcolm X, a very important figure to African American history, also helped her in making many accomplishments in life. During her lifetime, Maya Angelou was able witness some of the many forms of racism, prejudices, hatred, and the struggles that many African Americans experienced daily. The struggles and experiences of African Americans lead her to become a very active member with the Civil Rights Movement. She assisted Malcolm X with forming the Organization of African American Unity. Another very important person to African American History and to Maya Angelou was Martin Luther King. Their friendship was a positive bond that was reflected through the commitment to unite and work towards fair treatment and rights of individuals. She served as the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960’s. The death of Martin Luther King, along with some of the tragic events in her life, inspired her to write one of her first writings, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This seemed to be another reflection of the situations and events that she had to deal with in her life, such as, the various forms of prejudices and complications of the world (due to race and gender), and the rape that she had experienced during her childhood. The poem “Still I Rise” appears to reflect some of the strengths and feelings that Maya Angelou may have also had in regards to situations of the world and the history of her African American ancestors. The language and wording throughout the poem illustrates the attitude, boldness, sense of pride, and a strong sense of self-confidence of the speaker. One of the lines in the poem is ‘You may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust I’ll rise’. This line suggests that the speaker is a very strong willed person and determined to succeed. The person is determined not to allow the many discriminating things of the world make them feel worthless. Other lines in the poem are ‘You may shoot me with your words’, ‘You may cut me with your eyes’, and ‘You may kill me with your hatefulness’. During African American History, many individuals experienced slavery and discrimination. Today, there are still some prejudices that people are faced with which may involve people of various races and/or gender. The poem is a true reflection of the pride and self-confidence in which the speaker has. The speaker reflects honor of being somebody, has high self-respect, and a high self-esteem. Sometimes individuals may read poems daily or throughout the week that inspire, motivate, and comfort them. Some of the titles for Maya Angelou poems are just as powerful as the wording within her poems and can send a message right away to the reader. Frequently reading “Still I Rise”, and many of the other poems by Maya Angelou, such as, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”, and “Song for the Old Ones”, can offer this comfort and inspiration to those individuals that may be experiencing struggles, uncertainties and challenges in life. Speaking to others is sometimes a hard task for some people; however, Maya Angelou, often captures the attention of each and every audience when she speaks. She has appeared as a guest on several television talk shows, such as, Oprah, and has spoken at several special events. Many of the special events that she has attended over the years have included several colleges, such as Morehouse College, and other educational facilities. Her school, Maya Angelou Elementary School, allows students of various races to experience a learning environment that constantly promotes programs that assist in the academic progress and academic development of each individual student. The school also encourages positive social interaction with others. The world has developed so rapidly with many individuals of various races, different ethnic backgrounds, different social environments, and cultural differences. Maya Angelou has reached out to individuals to challenge many issues that we have been faced with. She has been committed to developing research that attempts to evaluate the many health issues which have drawn a lot of attention in the world. She seeks to motivate all individuals to be diverse, to make determinations to distinguish between those things that are meaningful and important in life, and to continue pursuing resources that will allow them to achieve all opportunities that may be available in life. Poems such as “Still I Rise” can be very encouraging, uplifting, motivational, inspiring, and can provide inner strength for individuals. Maya Angelou’s contributions to society as a great educator, great speaker, Historian, actress, civil rights activist, and poet will continue to inspire and encourage individuals today. Although Maya Angelou experienced some very difficult times in her life, her strength and inner peace allowed her to accomplish, achieve, and rise in life; overcoming the many obstacles that she experienced. Her poem “Still I Rise” and many of her other writings will continue to encourage individuals by providing a positive spiritual insight, and encouragement to individuals to reach for their dreams and goals in life in order to make great achievements and accomplishments in life.

Works Cited

“America’s Renaissance Woman” Maya Angelou Interview, Academy of Achievement. Jan 22, 1997. Retrieved April 18, 2008 Retrieved April 18, 2008

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. Retrieved April 10, 2008

Ray, Marqua. “Scholars Journal- Publication of the National Society of High School Scholars”. An Evening with Dr. Maya 1 Angelou (May, 1007). 2006

“Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health”, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. http://www1.ufubmc.Edu/minority heatlh/

Wilson, Edwin Graves. Poetry for Young People – Maya Angelou (2007): 4-47

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