I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou ( April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.
- The first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco, California, in the 1940s.
- Her 1969 autobiography, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," is the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. It's the first in a seven-volume series, a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma.
- Recited one of her poems at President Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural ceremony—marking the first inaugural recitation since 1961.
- She was lauded in 1995 for her record-setting, two-year run on The New York Times' paperback nonfiction best-seller list.
- Is the first African-American woman to have her screenplay produced, for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia.
- MLK Jr. was assassinated on friend Maya Angelou's birthday (April 4) in 1968. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward.
- In 1952, Maya Angelou married a Greek sailor named Anastasios Angelopulos, from whom she took her professional name.
- Her full name is Marguerite Ann Johnson.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread 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.
Maya Angelou, Still I Rise from "And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems" Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)
Still I Rise is an emotive poem written by an Afro-American and basically addressed to the white oppressors of black people. The writer is drawing from the centuries of mistreatment and oppression of black people. Ironically the first two lines are about writing: ... Essentially the poem is about triumph over adversity.