What does Angelou mean when she says, "Out of the hut of history's shame/ I rise. / Up from a past that's rooted in pain/ I rise"? 

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maya Angelou is addressing the pain of slavery. She has had to overcome the historically-entrenched oppression and cruelty inflicted on Africans. It is this dark past that her ancestors had to endure, and now she has also found a way to “rise” above the collective pain. In the poem, she has found a new sense of awareness and has become a black woman who has risen above "history's shame." It is a poem of self-discovery and passion as she taunts her readers to come to grips with who she has become. Angelou feels that she will not fall victim to further discrimination because she has found her true worth as a black woman. No one will ever be able to subjugate her again because she has risen above the hatred and pain of history.