I was introduced to Maya Angelou when I was in middle school. I don’t know if it was by my sister or a teacher. I do remember that my sister loved Ms. Angelou, and my sister is the only person I’ve ever wanted to copy. So, if she didn’t introduce me, I certainly latched on because my sister was the most fabulous person in my eyes.
Ms. Angelou’s poetry made me feel like my existence mattered–even at a time when I wasn’t completely aware of why knowing that was essential.
I loved the depth, the sass, the strength, and the power of her words. I loved how each stanza was affirmation and propelled me forward. Always forward.
I knew the words to Phenomenal Woman and remember reciting the poem for class. Still I Rise was also one of my favorites. I knew the words to it as well.
To survive the four years long hunger game that was high school, Ms. Angelou’s poems–specifically Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise–were a must.
I haven’t visited with either in a long time. This is the first year that I’ve been super psyched about Black History month, and reflecting on its importance led me back to Ms. Angelou. There is much more meaning and understanding now that I’m reading Still I Rise as a mature woman and mother. Particularly during Black History Month.
I am so thankful for the teachers and my sister who brought these works into my life. Representation matters.
Happy Black History Month!
This post is dedicated to the women who are walking, breathing personifications of Still I Rise.
Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.