Still I Rise

August 15, 2014

success_is_likingThose were the words spoken by Maya Angelou in the poem, “Still I Rise,” and are included in her book of poetry entitled, “And Still I Rise.” Over the decades, her gifts as an author, teacher, poet, actor, dancer and singer continue to make a profound impression upon many generations as well as internationally. During her life time, she wrote seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning more than 50 years. She received countless awards, over 30 honorary doctoral degrees, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993 and in 2011 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
She was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri; however, her childhood was quite challenging as she and her brother lived in various places. Those early years played a pivotal role in her life and future. In those early years, she learned the hard way; worked various menial jobs, all the while trying to develop her artist talents of singing, dancing and writing. It was through her gift of writing that she begin to find her place in a complex world and began writing about her childhood and early adult life experiences. In her first autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” in 1969, she tells of her life up to the age of seventeen. This book brought her international recognition and acclaim as she wrote about how strength of one’s character and a love of literature can help overcome trauma and racism.
In her book, “And Still I Rise,” which consists of 32 short poems; she uses themes that point to a hopeful determination to rise above difficulty and discouragement. Throughout the book she speaks for her race and gender, and yet again emphasizes the strength and resiliency of her community. In the poem, “Still I Rise,” she see beyond the actions of others and with a clear understanding that regardless of what is happening there will always be an opportunity. As so, with some much occurring in our communities these days … gun violence, racism, gangs, prejudice, drugs, and poverty… “still we can rise.” What do you think?
Dr. Andrew Calhoun, can be contacted at, Twitter #AC53, or call 414-571-5015. You can hear Dr. Calhoun each Sunday at Grace Fellowship Church, 3879 N. Port Washington Rd. Milwaukee.