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 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.”