Maya Angelou Wrote This Poem To Remind Everyone They're Worth So Much More

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Maya Angelou was a poet, novelist, and public figure who became an American treasure in her 86 years on earth. Her work has received accolades, and in particular, her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" — about her early life overcoming racism and trauma by turning to the written word — has become a literature classic. Listen to a popular poem of hers, one I distinctly remember reading in the newspaper as a child, below.

Transcript:
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You may write 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?
Just 'cause I walk as if I have oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high,
Still I 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 sassiness upset you?
Don't take it so hard
Just 'cause I laugh as if I have gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your lies,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness offend you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I have diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past rooted in pain
I rise
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 miraculously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave.
And so, naturally,
There I go rising.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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Original poem, "Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou, whose full bio you can read on Bio.com. Thumbnail via Thinkstock.

I usually joke and call people American treasures for silly undeserving reasons, but really, Maya was. Rest in peace.

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