Maya Angelou’s poem, ‘Still I Rise” chronicles her ancestors' feelings and the legacy of slavery and oppression until she chooses to rise above the history of the past. She inherits from her ancestors subjugated by slavery, “a past rooted in pain”, “nights of terror and fear”, and “shame.” But out of that, Angelou finds the “dream and hope of the slave” and rises above the oppression of those who “lie” about her and see her as less than what she is. Through the hopes and dreams of her ancestors, she has become “sassy”, “sexy”, and “haughty”. She has overcome the hate of others and has found her self-worth. She is valuable like oil, diamonds, and gold, and she has chosen to rise above those who say she is less.
Because of the sacrifices of what others before her had to endure, Angelou becomes self-actualized by their hopes and dreams for her. She will not let others keep her “broken” and with “bowed head.” Instead, she will rise again and again like her ancestors have always done despite the hardships of racism and prejudice.