Dr. Maya Angelou
“Still I Rise”
April 11, 2010
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Favor comes because for a brief moment in the great space of human change and progress some general human purpose finds in him a satisfactory embodiment.”(www.brainyquote.com) Throughout many centuries in American history, at some point or another there has been a great struggle for African- American people. A struggle filled with many disappointments embodied by raw emotion that has built strength and courage in a people where hope seemed unreachable. Some argue the strength and courage attributed to the work and tireless efforts came from many within the race and those who saw a greater vision for them. One noted and extraordinary person responsible for this is Dr. Maya Angelou. This expository essay will focus on Maya Angelou and the Embodiment of Courage, which has a powerful place in the vision of change and progress sought by a nation of people, will illustrate to illustrate how she embodies the concept of courage though her early life experiences, poetry, and speeches. In selecting this topic, I wanted to capture the essence of the Embodiment of Courage behind Dr. Angelou’s speeches. Her speeches make use of words, which appeal to my raw human emotions, while illustrating the progress oppressed people in America have made. The importance of this topic to the audience is due to people having come to fear what they do not understand and she is effective at providing an alternative perspective than those of ignorance and hate.
In pulling together research for this topic, there are several avenues available with a wealth of information, where and what to pull was taxing. I found it taxing because each speech, poem or other writings by Dr. Maya Angelou captures the embodiment of courage on some level, from the public, to the academic realm, to the big screen and the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton. However, there is one that captures and holds my attention, in researching I watched several videos on Dr. Maya Angelou, which, I located on YouTube. I selected the speech where Dr. Maya Angelou pays tribute to Andrew Young and recites her poem “Still I Rise,” on his 75th birthday. She makes use of eye contact by scanning over the entire audience. As she has become older, she uses less body language, but her use of range in tone is consistent. She has a certain grounded real life presentation that I find appealing by drawing me in, and making me feel as though she is speaking directly to me. The speech is not directly persuasive, but it is very inspiring because she abstractly brings historical ideas and issues to the forefront of my mind, and illustrates progress people within this country have made.
It illustrates the change in things and how people have learned to cope, how they have learn to survive in the midst of adversity, and how what does not kill you will definitely make you stronger. Showing the injustice of African-American people by Caucasians, she uses rhetoric that provides insight to a strategy she wishes to unfold to her audience. Pulling from her own strife rendered to her in life, she is able to incorporate the trials and tribulations of African-American people, showing that despite any adversity experienced there is opportunity to prevail. For example, when she writes, “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.”
“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.”
She illustrates here, with the use of similes showing despite any trial or tribulation, showing despite what one race of people or gender of people thinks; there is a courage embedded in you to rise above the negativity and prevail to the highest level attainable to you.
Her recitation at the 75th...