This year’s theme is Still We Rise: Cultivating Courage, our TheatreWorks program reflects our theme by connecting our performance to the works of Maya Angelou. Our teens wrote letters to Maya about various things, this is a piece from our performance that combined all the letters into one and was performed by eight teens.

Dear Maya,

Ms. Angelou,

Dear Maya Angelou,

Dear Dr. Maya Angelou.

I would like to start by thanking you, with my whole heart for writing this poem. I have had a hard time in the past, but hearing your poem made me feel hopeful and happier. The poem you wrote in 1978, Still I Rise, inspired me. You are a massive inspiration to people around the world. I’ve worked with your poetry a lot, I like it because it is relatable. It’s so beautiful and relatable. You have have gone through so many challenges. From struggles of racism, discrimination,  and sexual abuse. Staying mute from the ages of 8 to 13 to becoming a mother at 17. Thank you for persevering. You have always risen above the challenges and like you said, “STILL I RISE”.

I aspire to rise above the people who put me down. The line, “Leaving behind nights of terror and fear…” I love the line, Leaving behind nights of terror and fear…” It connects with me because I believe you are saying, leave the past behind you, rise above it. Don’t let it control you, let it shape you into a better person or the person you want to be.

When you say “But still, like air, I rise.” it makes me feel happier because I rose above my bad past. Although most of my nights were more full sadness than fear, I still connect. Someone I care about very much had left me behind, but after nights of tears, I decided to move on into a new, clear beginning.

I really relate to one of your stanzas. It says, “You may kill me with your hatefulness but still like air I’ll rise.” I like that line because there was a time when I was in a situation where people said some things and it brought me down. But you show us how to come back, how to rise above the situation.

Another line you sprinkled into your performance was very touching. You said how one way or another, everybody has gone to bed with fear. I love that line so much, and I think about it all the time.

In your work, you tell us we are worth more than we know, that we can do anything even if we are told it is impossible. You teach us to rise above stereotypes and to get up when others put us down. You have helped so many people rise above stereotypes and sometimes even society itself.

I have learned not to let others opinions define me. Your poem has made me feel more confident. I aspire to be a person who can overcome and show courage throughout doubt and fears; just as you have been able to accomplish.

Thank you,

Thank you for blessing us all with your beautiful work.

Thank you for writing this amazing poem.



Best wishes,

With gratitude,


Eve, Tanishia, Tris, Cali, Olivia, Megan, Riley, Courtney.