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Reading Response on “Graduation”


The name of the article for the response is Graduation by Maya Angelou. The article highlights Angelou’s mixed reactions on her day of her diploma graduation at her school. The main point she passes across is that Mr. Donleavy, who was the guest speaker on her graduation day, spoilt her mood and excitement about the occasion. Angelou explains this point by highlighting how her graduation day had started and the events that followed. Angelou (2013) affirms that she had woken up in the morning with great hope of a beautiful day that would give her the opportunity to celebrate the hard work she had put into her studies. Again, she had been excited about the overall preparations her mother had made for her including making her new dress that she would wear on her graduation day. She was also looking forward to the presents that she would receive as part of her congratulation for her hard-earned diploma. However, the mood and excitement was spoilt when Mr. Donleavy referred to blacks as maids, guards, and farmers. She ended up believing that Negros have no position in the society and mourned the social degradation of blacks. Therefore, her graduation was not as exciting as she had anticipated.

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My Thoughts and Feelings about the Article and the Author’s Ideas

I believe that the article is effective in highlighting the high level of racism that took place in the American society during the 1940s. The article focuses on the high level of racism through Mr. Donleavy’s address to the graduates during the event. They had all anticipated a motivational speech that would have made them appreciated as members of the society. However, this did not happen as expected because Mr. Donleavy continued to remind the Negro graduates that they belonged to the group of farmers and maids within the society. The article brings out this view in the clearest manner possible by quoting Mr. Donleavy’s opening words to black students. I have read about the history of racism in America and it has not been good for African-Americans. The same message that I have read is borne in Mr. Donleavy’s words to blacks during Angelou’s graduation ceremony.

More so, I feel that Angelou’s argument that Mr. Donleavy’s remarks killed her happiness during her graduation ceremony is justified. I strongly agree with Angelou’s (2013) assertion that racial discrimination or segregation of any form can be discouraging and disappointing for any person. It is natural that one would not feel well in instances where he/she is degraded by an individual who believes to be in a superior position. Personally, I have always felt disappointed when people have tried to undermine me and exclude me from their group. In fact, it is an extremely hurting situation that might take away all the happiness one has at any given time. Therefore, I agree with Angelou’s idea that she lost all the joy she had on her graduation day because of Mr. Donleavy’s reference to blacks as farmers and maids.

Lastly, I like Angelou’s idea of appreciating the role her grandmother and the rest of the community had performed toward her graduation. It is always appropriate to appreciate the efforts of parents and guardians in providing for our needs and ensuring that we get the best in our lives. I agree with her emphasis that her grandmother had put everything in place including a new dress to ensure that she had the best graduation ever. She also talks of the gifts that had been prepared for her during the occasion.

Personally, I have learned from experience that parents do a lot toward our success and we should never fail to appreciate them. This sets the ground for more achievement. Therefore, I am in total agreement with Angelou’s reiteration of her parent’s role in facilitating her excitement on her graduation day.


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