A caged bird legacy: And Still I Rise

Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise Trailer: Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.


Maya Angelou is an American poet, writer and civil rights activist.

In 1961-62 she spent time in Egypt as associate editor of The Arab Observer that was at the time the only news weekly published in English. From 64 to 66 she was a feature editor of the African Review in Ghana.

She was the first black, female director in Hollywood, where Angelou wrote, produced, directed and starred in several screenplays and film productions; taking inspiration from her earlier experiences as a dancer.

She worked with Martin Luther King for many years, aided and supported him during his civil rights campaigns, where her poetry became a prominent presence among his own speeches.

At President Bill Clinton‘s inauguration 1993, Angelou read her poem On the Pulse of Morning, making her the first poet to recite at an inaugural ceremony since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy‘s inauguration in 1961.

In 2010, Angelou was awarded the medal of freedom by Barack Obama.

Angelou was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defence of black culture, a statement against oppression and a message of hope and inspiration for all to learn from.

Still, I Rise is one of my favourite poems written by Angelou – you can click here for a link to my analysis of this poem. Angelou’s ‘Still, I Rise’ offers a message of undying hope; presenting the unhampered spirit Angelou retained through out her life, and the ignition of strength her works continue to pass on to its readers today. As she empowers us all to

“that rather than sit in the dark, and curse the dark; light a match.”

Other works by Maya Angelou



I Know why the Caged Bird Sings

An autobiography detailing the coming of age of Marguerite (Angelou’s birth name) as she recounts the memoirs of her childhood in Missouri. It is the story of  Angelou’s courage as a young woman as she overcomes traumas and the abuse of racism. The story depicts her struggle to find her position in the world as a young, black female.


Gather together in my name

A little down the line from I Know why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou is now between the ages of 17-19. The book tells her experiences at the time, showing her struggles as she gave birth to her first son. It speaks of Angelou’s grapples with poverty as she worked as a prostitute and dancer to support herself, all the time combating issues of racism that underpinned the 1940’s. It is Angelou’s investigation into herself as she shows us in honest light the experiences that allowed her to find herself and realise her strength and her passion that went on to be in the forefront of every word Angelou every wrote.


Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?

Published at the high point of Angelou’s career, this was her fourth collection of poetry where Angelou’s confidence of word sings in every line, and works only to enhance what was already mind-shattering literature.




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