PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Long before “Still I Rise” was read Sunday at the end of an afternoon devoted to the poems of Maya Angelou, the poet herself seemed to be present at the First Baptist Church in America.
As one of the readers said later: “The meaning of who she was and what she was trying to say doesn’t just come alive” when her words are read, but “People are walking out different from how they came in.”
In the 19 women who spoke or read, t was Angelou, wearing bright colors, sparkling with sequins and rhinestones, adorned by big-bowed hats.
Nanci DeRobbio read from “Human Family,” in which Angelou reflects: “I’ve sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land, I’ve seen the wonders of the world, not yet one common man.”
Three women, Rose Weaver, Maya Breuer and Sylvia Ann Soares, took turns reading the poem that Angelou read at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.
The Rev. Jamie Washam, pastor of the church whose first pastor was Roger Williams, read “In All Ways a Woman,” then asked the community to dig deep as the basket was passed.
Raffini closed with a dramatic reading of “Still I Rise.”.