Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today I want to honor two powerful influences in my life: Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Maya Angelou would have been 90 years old today. She is a heroic influence in my life. Her legacy and words keep me going as we collectively create the possible society, one step at a time. In her honor, Google Doodle featured her poem “Still I Rise” voiced by Ms. Angelou and other artists. This poem changed my life the first time I read it.  I honor her by sharing it with you today.

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou1928 – 2014

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.


Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.


You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?


Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.”



Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968

I am also honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of his death. Whenever I feel discouraged, wonder how I will sustain myself and others during the dark times of struggle, or when the burden of injustice, oppression, and violence is too much to bear, he is my inspiration. I want to share with you some of his quotes that are beacons of light in my life.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“But I know somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in their own ways, show us what the future can be.

Last night was the 3rd session of SWAN’s 1st Group Coaching Session. I am so inspired by these powerful women. The future is here. Join us as we together achieve our dreams and the dreams of those who came before us.