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Maya Angelou’s “My Arkansas” Handout

Maya Angelou’s “My Arkansas” Handout
Maya Angelou’s “My Arkansas” Handout
Maya Angelou’s “My Arkansas” Handout
Maya Angelou’s “My Arkansas” Handout
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70 KB|11 pages
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A four-page fill-n-the-blanks handout in which your students will analyze the structure, themes, and imagery of Angelou’s poem “My Arkansas. Published in 1978, when the poet was fifty, this brief, three-stanza, 21-line poem examines the racial progress of the state where she spent a part of her childhood.
Amazingly in just a few images Angelou captures the essence of the two “old crimes” (line 3) committed against blacks: the over two-hundred years of “Ante-bellum” (line 16) slavery followed by almost one-hundred years of Jim Crow second-class segregation.
Angelou ends her poem by stating that while some racial progress has been made, there still remains some vestiges of prejudice, called“Old hates” (line 15), and thus “Today [the day of racial equality] is yet to come / In Arkansas” (18-19).
A two-page Answer Key, which begins on a separate page, follows the student handout.
After it I have included five pages of notes to the teacher, including (1) details of Angelou childhood/early-teen years in Arkansas taken from her acclaimed autobiography, I Think I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; (2) how she, who was born Marguerite Annie Johnson, got the name Maya Angelou; (3) her involvement with the Civil Rights movement and her deep friendship with both of its diametrical opposed leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X; and (4) discussions of historical matters incorporated into “My Arkansas”: slavery in America, lynching of blacks, and Jim Crow Laws.
The student handout is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.
Total Pages
11 pages
Answer Key
Included
Teaching Duration
30 minutes
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