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My Arkansas by Maya Angelou Essay Sample

“My Arkansas” is a poem that was authored by Maya Angelou. Angelou, who is also the speaker, grew up as a kid with her grandmother in a rural isolated region of Arkansas. The poem talks about her memory regarding an old Arkansas typified by a struggle to a new wave of equality among people of all races. Several decades ago, racial bias against African-Americans was rife in Arkansas. It occurred on a daily basis. Sadly, still to this day, a severe darkness still exists in Arkansas. It is stuck in the past since racial bias is so far predominant (Bookaddict4real, 2011).

The speaker discusses about past crimes and discrimination which happened against African- Americans. The poem provides a glimpse of what it looked like for African-Americans living during those days in this state. For those who lived in Arkansas at that time, it is clear that their human rights were grossly violated. Just to give one example, in order to infuse fear into their colleagues’ hearts, they were hanged from trees. Therefore the speaker chose to expose the crimes and bias against the African-Americans in form of a poem (Bookaddict4real, 2011).

The speaker uses general symbolism as well as historical allusion to make the subject matter of the poem apparent and lively to the reader. Moss pending from the poplar plants refers to the killings that occurred in old Arkansas (Bookaddict4real, 2011). Red symbolizes the blood of African-Americans who passed on (Bookaddict4real, 2011). The past crimes still haunt the perpetrators who have not yet vanished. “This day is yet to come in the state” means that the state is stuck in the past (Bookaddict4real, 2011). That is because it has not yet resolved its racial tensions and inequality. From this poem, it is apparent that African -Americans have suffered greatly to get to where they are today as a race.


Bookaddict4real. (2011). My Arkansas by Maya Angelo. Retrieved on January 7, 2011, from http://www.bookaddict4real.com/2011/09/my-arkansas-by-maya-angelou.html.

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