I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, 2019


The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still. And his tune is heard on a distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom. —Maya Angelou, from “Caged Bird,” 1983

While doing some research I came across a photograph of four young African American women sitting on the steeps of Atlanta College in 1899/1900. The self-assured looks on their faces and their stylized, almost break-dancer-like poses grabbed my attention right away. The women look braggadocious and supremely confident—what a contrast to the time when they lived, in the Deep South, when segregation was the new law of the land just thirty-five years after the abolishment of slavery…. This is their coming out, just like the release of the caged bird. The bird in a cage on the third girl’s arm illustrates the words of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem—these girls have used education to set themselves free. —Bisa Butler

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Artist Life
born 1973
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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