In "Still I Rise," what are the inherited "gifts" that the writer brings with her?

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While this poem is noted for its rousing singular voice, Maya Angelou does not forget to give credit where credit is due. Through the following quote from "Still I Rise," she pays homage to her ancestors, who struggled much more than she does and helped enable Angelou's own freedom.

I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

The main theme of this poem is triumph over oppression. Through the above lines from the poem, Angelou connects her struggle--and ultimate triumph--to the pain and struggles of her ancestors. They survived through insurmountable and inhumane circumstances when activism was not an option. When it became possible to act, they worked tirelessly to ensure that she and the rest of their people would be free and have equal rights. The author recognizes that without these gifts inherited from her ancestors, she wouldn't be here as a free woman. Angelou creates a metaphor here, calling herself "the dream and the hope of the slave." This shows that as a free black woman with equal rights, her existence is the actualization of her ancestor's hopes and dreams.

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In "Still I Rise," what are the inherited gifts that the writer brings with her?

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.

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What are the inherited gifts that the poet brings with her? Answer with reference to Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise."

Maya Angelou is an African-American writer. Her ancestors had endured outrageous atrocities as slaves for centuries. Proudly, however, she calls herself as their inheritor, and, jubilantly, says she brings with her “the gifts my ancestors gave.”

Maya has been handed down the legacy of oppression and neglect by her ancestors. The struggle for freedom of the blacks has continued for centuries. Despite spending countless “nights of terror and fear” and undergoing insufferable pain, her ancestors had persisted in their struggle against racism.

Maya inherits their never-give-up fighting spirit. Actually, giving up is not an option with her; she rather intends to rise high “like dust,” “like moons and like suns,” like tides and “like hopes.”

All their lives, Maya’s ancestors had nurtured the dream...

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of attaining freedom and equality. She inherits their dream as an ancestral gift.

Nowhere in the poem does Maya sound dispirited or anxious. Her voice is, rather, ambitious, confident, fearless and buoyant. She knows the weight and value of the gifts she inherits. She wouldn't let her ancestors down. 

Therefore, Maya is not going to be one with “bowed head and lowered eyes;" instead she would rise “out of the huts of history's shame,” and “up from a past that's rooted in pain.” Overcoming “the terror and fear” that tormented her ancestors, she has become “sassy,” “haughty” and “sexy.” 

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