Don’t Forget Maya

I read my first Maya Angelou poem in elementary school. The girls in my class would roll their neck and shout, “phenomenal women” like the old church women shout “Hallelujah” on the pews. Still I Rise was a cherished favorite where I come from and it’s an anthem, an ode and promise that many black women vow to keep to themselves everyday.

The strength of Maya Angelou’s poetry, to me, seems to come from her need to assert her identity. Even if she may not have been secure in it, she was wandering in it and she allowed us to join her wanderings through her poems.

Let’s remember Maya Angelou

 

 

The Mothering Blackness

By Maya Angelou
She came home running
       back to the mothering blackness   
       deep in the smothering blackness
white tears icicle gold plains of her face   
       She came home running
She came down creeping
       here to the black arms waiting
       now to the warm heart waiting
rime of alien dreams befrosts her rich brown face   
       She came down creeping
She came home blameless
       black yet as Hagar’s daughter
       tall as was Sheba’s daughter
threats of northern winds die on the desert’s face   
       She came home blameless
Maya Angelou, “The Mothering Blackness” from Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water Fore I Die. Copyright © 1971 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)
***

The Black Family Pledge 

By Maya Angelou

BECAUSE we have forgotten our ancestors,
our children no longer give us honor.

BECAUSE we have lost the path our ancestors cleared
kneeling in perilous undergrowth,
our children cannot find their way.

BECAUSE we have banished the God of our ancestors,
our children cannot pray.

BECAUSE the old wails of our ancestors have faded beyond our hearing,
our children cannot hear us crying.

BECAUSE we have abandoned our wisdom of mothering and fathering,
our befuddled children give birth to children
they neither want nor understand.

BECAUSE we have forgotten how to love, the adversary is within our
gates, an holds us up to the mirror of the world shouting,
‘Regard the loveless’

Therefore we pledge to bind ourselves to one another, to embrace our
lowliest, to keep company with our loneliest, to educate our illiterate,
to feed our starving, to clothe our ragged, to do all good things,
knowing that we are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters.

We ARE our brothers and sisters.

IN HONOR of those who toiled and implored God with golden tongues,
and in gratitude to the same God who brought us out of hopeless desolation, we make this pledge.

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