Voices of Unity: Maya Angelou “Still I Rise”


A world renowned poet and activist, Maya Angelou was a master of connecting with people’s hearts and souls.

Growing up in segregated south, she experienced poverty, racism and child rape. Instead of breaking her spirit, these challenges opened her to the depth of human experience and informed her ability to write with faith, power, humor and inspiration. Her words pierce our heart with empathy and make our spirits soar. 

One example of her work is the poem “Still I Rise.” Though not all of us have experienced the degree of systemic racism that inspired her to create this poem, we have all encountered cruelty and experienced the universal feeling of powerlessness at one time or another. This poem unites us in our pain and lifts us into a state of victory that Maya embodied so beautifully.

I encourage you to soak in the power of her words! Let them fill your spirit with a renewed strength, hope and optimism that you too can rise above the challenges of your life. Let Maya convince you that you too are worthy of God’s love, in spite of negative messages you may have received throughout your life.

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may wite me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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 backyard.

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.

Thank you God for faith heroes like Maya Angelou, who allow Your glory to shine through them into the world. Help us to follow their victorious examples to experience more triumph in our own lives. Give us the strength to rise up from the ashes of our own personal struggles and bring people together in Your spirit of love and truth. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

What does the work of Maya Angelou mean to you personally? What struggle are you trying to rise above? How do her words help? Comment below, and I’ll keep you in my prayers! 

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