Graduation by Maya Angelou is an essay about discrimination. The beginning of this essay reminded me of my own high school graduation. How scared but excited I was to be taking the next step up in my life. I felt like the story paralleled my experiences at the beginning, but at the end I had a totally different outlook on this piece of writing. As I got further into the essay, I felt that there was nothing about Angelou’s life that I had ever experienced or could relate to. Many people in my graduating class have moved on to college but Angelou explains that only a small percent of her class would be continuing on to college. Angelou speaks of how blacks were not given an equal chance and how they would never see the side the white people were exposed to.
“Graduation” begins on a sunny summer day at the end of June. The story begins by introducing the preparations for graduation. It describes the hard work, anticipation, and excitement that goes into this event, . This event brings people of all ages together to celebrate an important event. Angelou states, “graduating classes themselves were the nobility. Like travelers with exotic destinations on their mind”. Graduation is an unforgettable day that turns children into adults, it’s the commencement of twelve long years of accomplishment. After graduation, you are set free into the real world to find your identity. I myself feel “like a traveler with an exotic destination on my mind.” I feel like there is something out there for me that I haven’t discovered yet, and through my hard work and searching I will one day find the exotic destination that I’ve been searching for my whole life.
Angelou explains how on your graduation day, you are the special one. You are getting
all of the attention, “The person of the moment” “The birthday girl” Because I just graduated myself, I can relate to what Angelou is saying. It was a day in my life I was getting all the attention for a huge accomplishment. I felt as though I deserved a pat on the back that day, for all the hard work I had accomplished up until that point.
Graduating is a privilege. It is something we look forward to from the day we start school. Angelou considers herself ” a member of the winning team” In many ways, I felt the same way. My whole life I have worked so hard for that special day. I felt as though I had conquered the first phase of my life. I also “Felt like a member of the winning team”. Angelou is a strong outspoken woman and says she “was headed for the freedom of open fields”. As a young woman myself searching for a goal in life, I am also headed “for the freedom of open fields.”
However, I have many more advantages than Angelou did. The types of opportunities that are open to me were not open to Angelou. Though we are both women searching for a role in this world, my chances of reaching my goal are much higher than Angelou’s. Compared to Angelou’s, My life has been free of obstacles such as racism and poverty. Angelou had to fight and work extremely hard to get the opportunities that I take for granted.
As the day of Angelou’s graduation finally approached, it seemed very similar to mine; the preparations, the anticipation, and all the excitement. I felt as though I was reliving my graduation through Angelou’s essay. The picture Angelou draws is a portrait of a typical graduation, until the two politicians show up. The two men that show up at Angelou’s graduation do not want to be there. They were there to spread propaganda. The two men wanted the votes of the black people, so they put on a whole show which the black people saw right through. They knew the men didn’t want to be there and were putting on a deceitful act.
The people are aware that they never see politicians at any time of the year unless it’s close to election time. I feel as though I can relate to this situation, because modern day politicians become more visible as elections approach.
As the graduation went on, the mood of Angelou went from joyous and excited to unhappy and angry. The visit by the two white men was truly a rude awaking for Angelou and her community. Angelou feels as though her huge accomplishment was nothing. She feels as though the white men had exposed her and the rest of her graduating class to the reality of their future. The two men gave the impression to Angelou and her class that they were “the maids and farmers and washmen” and anything higher was unthinkable.
The end of the ceremony was degrading to Angelou and her friends. They were told that the only jobs in life for them were the lowest ones around. The day of happiness turned into a day of harsh reality. Angelou’s big day was ruined not because of anything she had done wrong but because of her color. I feel that it is unfair that Angelou and her people were treated this way; they are just as qualified as any other person.
It really angers me that Angelou is such a smart woman and was unable to show the world just how smart she was. Angelou was unable to display her power and potent ional to the world.
I never had to deal with discrimination or being told I could only have a specific type of job. Thank God, our society is changing. Unlike Angelou, I can be anything I set my heart to. There are no barriers holding me back.
I agree with Angelou and support her ideas and ways of thinking. I believe black people are no different from white people, and I feel that it was unfair that black people were not given
the same opportunities as white people, even though they were just as qualified.