In Maya Angelou's essay entitled, "Graduation", she speaks on the subject of her eighth grade graduation that takes place in 1940. The name of the school is Lafayette County Training School, and it is a predominantly black school. Most students would go on to be trained as carpenters, farmers, handymen, a mason, maids, cooks, and baby nurses. The area that the school is located in was considered run down. Though the case may be, this is still a momentous occasion for Angelou. Her family closes their business for that day. They hang cardboard over the doorknob clearly stating, "CLOSED. GRADUATION." Angelou states that she feels like a birthday girl, the center of attention. Her mother tailors her butter-yellow pique dress to make it look extra special. Angelou states that she feels like she is headed for the freedom of open fields. She is going to be one of the first called at her graduation due to her work efforts while in school. .
There are many activities occurring during the weeks before graduation. A group of small children from the school are to put on a play about buttercups and daisies and bunny rabbits. Older girls, that are non-graduates are assigned the task of making refreshments for the evening's festivities. The woodshop boys are to make sets and stage scenery. The graduates were practically the only ones left out of the general bustle. Even the Minister preached on graduation the Sunday before, with the subject being, "Let your light shine so that men will see your good works and praise your Father, Who is in Heaven.".
The Negro tradition is to give presents to children going only from one grade to another, especially graduation. So this is quite the occasion. Angelou's brother, Bailey gives her a soft-leather-bound copy of a collection of poems by Edgar Allen Poe. During this day of her graduation, Angelou feels as though her day is going just as planned. She is almost afraid it is going too good.