Bringing the Text to Life
The old ones remind us that slavery’s chains Have paid for our freedom again and again.
These are the words of the African-American poet Maya Angelou, offered at the Million Man March in 1995. Speaking to a huge crowd of black men on the Mall in Washington, D.C., she reminded them of their difficult and painful history, and then invited them to focus their lives on joy, courtesy, gentleness and care.
The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain,
We are a going-on people who will rise again.
Powerful words. Hopeful words. Inspiring words. Words which culminate in Angelou’s closing line, “And still we rise.”
And still we rise.
This soaring sentiment could be a summary of the struggle for racial justice and civil rights over the past hundred years. This movement is always worthy of remembrance during Black History Month, but 2009 contains an especially important anniversary: February 12 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP — the National Association for...