9.8 Editor's Pick
August 29, 2010

Know these words: Still I Rise.

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When we’re confused, lost, fearful, angry—we look to our elders, we read their words, we learn, we listen, we wake up instead of hiding: know these words. ~ ed.

Maya Angelou’s Poem I’ll Rise, set to Song by Ben Harper.

I’ve known this song for years, and liked it.

But tonight, reading a few quotes by Maya Angelou,

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”


“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”


“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength,”


“…Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible,”


“…You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise…”

on this anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, with Glenn Beck giving an us vs. them speech at the Lincoln Memorial with Sarah Palin adding some fear-mongering “Don’t let them fundamentally change the US”

…well tonight was the first time I realized that the lyrics of Ben Harper’s I’ll Rise are Maya Angelou’s words.

And I thought it a great and gentle message of resolve: we shall overcome—not them—but the anger and blame within each and every one of us, and create a nation and a world where our children learn that sustainability and harmony are basic and kindness and bravery are more fun.

Still I Rise

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?
‘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.

Maya Angelou


Beautiful. I’ll Rise:

Now this: The Maya Angelou Quote that America Needs to Hear.

Read this, too: 5 Ways White People can Combat Racism—Starting Now.

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