Below is an exceptional excerpt from "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. She writes her autobiography and teaches us lessons on being undermined, rejected, despised. Yet the agony of her childhood brought out the very victory of humanity that otherwise would not have been learnt by those who had it all easy in life.
We were maids and farmers, handymen and washerwomen, and anything higher that we aspired to was farcical and presumptuous.
It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. As a species, we were an abomination. All of us.
A poem by James Weldon Johnson, and a music composed by J. Rosamond Johnson, which became the Negro national anthem:
"Lift ev'ry voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chastening rod
Felt in the days when hope, unborn, had died.
Yet with a steady beat
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way
that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through
the blood of the slaughtered."
Oh, Black known and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned pains sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights made less lonely by your songs, or by empty pots made less tragic by your tales?
We were on top again. As always, again. We survived. The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls. I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race.