Every word Angelou wrote was a choice between one language variety or another, and the way in which she decided between them is a significant part of how her words resonate with so many people.
Perhaps surprisingly, Angelou was vocal during the Ebonics debate of the 1990s against the celebration of language variation.
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. In call and response, the audience should be verbally and physically rising with her by the end of the poem like the congregation would in a Southern Black Baptist church at the end of the preacher’s sermon.
comments on the way that Standardized English is used as a way for African-American women to disassociate from their cultural and linguistic heritage.
A successful writer ultimately celebrates the idiolect, the intimate language of the individual and the individual experience. Angelou sounded like my grandmother and all of the Winston-Salem Baptist English educators that I wanted to be as a child. As a daughter of Winston-Salem, in Southern honorific tradition, where attention to titles conveys respect, I would have never dreamed of calling her by her first name. You were quite literally who I wanted to be when I grew up.
Poet, dancer, singer, activist, and scholar, Maya Angelou is a world-famous author.
In it, she writes: The Black Bourgeois, who all say “yah” When yeah is what they’re meaning Should look around, both up and down Before they set out preening.
“Indeed” they swear, “that’s what I’ll wear When I go country-clubbing,” I’d remind them please, look at those knees You got a Miss Ann’s scrubbing.
The poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, who also wrote in both Standardized English and African-American English, was a strong influence on Angelou, and it was at the suggestion of Abby Lincoln Roach that Angelou adopted the name of her first autobiography from the Dunbar poem .
Dunbar writes: I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,– When he beats his bars and he would be free; It is not a carol of joy or glee, But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core, But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings– I know why the caged bird sings!