Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou – Why I Rise

On Saturday June 7th the world will be honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou. I remember the exact moment that I heard about the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou. I had just gotten in my car and turned on the radio when they announced it, and I immediately just stopped. I had to take a minute to just stop and thank God for blessing the world with such an incredible, phenomenal woman. A woman whose words have changed many lives including my own.

My earliest memory of really understanding her work was going into middle school and connecting with “Still I Rise”. Growing up as a first-generation American in a very African household presented some challenges in my adolescent years…trying to fit in where I didn’t fit in and trying to wear shoes that God had not designed for me. But it’s only been recently that I’ve really seen how these three simple words have kept me going. This is why I rise.

Still I Rise…even when they told me words wouldn’t hurt me, but they did, and they have.

Still I Rise…even when I had lost all self-esteem, self-confidence & self-love.

Still I Rise…even through the backstabbing and defamation of my name.

Still I Rise…even when the enemy tried to break my spirit.

Still I Rise…even when I was forced to close one door not knowing where the new one would lead.

Still I Rise…even when they told me I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough.

Still I Rise…even when they told me I couldn’t do it.

Still I Rise…even when I didn’t love myself enough to say “no”.

Still I Rise…

Still I Rise...

Still I Rise…

I rise because who am I not to? I rise because my children are watching me. I rise because my husband is rooting for me. I rise because I’ve come this far by faith and there’s no turning back. I rise because I still have breath. And as long as I have breath, my mission is to encourage others who haven’t yet discovered that they too, can still rise.

There are way too many quotes of hers I love but I believe my new favorite happens to be the last tweet she shared with us on May 23rd:

Check out this video of Maya Angelou reciting “Still I Rise”. Powerful!

Still I Rise

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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

I don’t know about you, but I will most definitely be honoring Dr. Angelou as they livestream her memorial service for us. First Lady Michelle Obama & Oprah Winfrey will be among those who will speak at the private service which will be held tomorrow, Saturday Jun, 7 2014 from 9:55 AM EDT — 12:30 PM EDT.

Click here to access the livestream.

How have the teachings of Dr. Maya Angelou shaped the person who you are today?
Photo Credit: Patrick Schneider Photography

Photo Credit: Patrick Schneider Photography

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