Maya Angelou Unforgettable Quotes You Should Know

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, singer, and civil rights activist. She was born on April 4, 1928. She had a difficult childhood. Her parents divorced when she was very young so she had to live with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. There she experienced firsthand racial prejudices and discrimination.  She had an extremely traumatic experience when she was 7 years old after which she spent years as a virtual mute.

She went to school in San Francisco where she won a scholarship to study dance and acting at the California Labor School. In the meantime, she became the first black female cable car conductor. She was married a couple of times but she was extremely secretive about her marriages so little is known about that. She has a son, Guy, and she worked multiple jobs to help raise him.

Maya Angelou died on May 28, 2014, after she experienced health issues for a number of years. She died at her home in Winston- Salem, North Carolina. She will be remembered as one of the greatest public rights activists, actresses, and singers ever.

Among her many quotes, these are some of the most memorable ones;

  • People trying to separate people rather than bring us together… please. You don’t just see it in America. It’s all over the world.
  •  I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. 
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
  • The most difficult thing in the world, it seems to me, is to realize that I am a child of God; to keep that in my mind all the time.
  • My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.
  •  I try to live up to the energy and to the calling, but I wouldn’t dare say I have even scratched the surface yet.
  • While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else is also God’s creation
  • A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
  • Courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.
  • The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.
  • Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.
  • f you’re in love with your children, you’re in their lives all the time. Leave them alone. Let them grow and make some mistakes.
  • I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
  • The caged bird sings with a fearful trill/ of things unknown but longed for still/ and his tune is heard on the distant hill/ for the caged birds sings of freedom.
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that, I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.
  • We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. 
  • Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
  • One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
  • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
  • Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
  • How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!
  • I do hope that young men and women will start to think for themselves and start to take responsibility for their own thoughts.
  • I try to see every day as a celebration.
  • I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.
  • You have to deal with what you encounter. But you must not be reduced. And so a way not to be reduced is don’t whine! Don’t let the incidents which take place in life bring you low.
  • The only way you can be a mark is if you want something for nothing. If you’re greedy, you’re set up.
  • Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.
  • I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
  • Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.
  • A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.
  • Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
  • My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked, a song that speaks, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.
  • All great achievements require time. 
  • Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
  • It’s very hard for adults to maintain respect and romance so that a love affair can be sustained over years.
  • When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.
  • To grow up is to stop putting blame on parents
  • We are only as blind as we want to be.
  • History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
  • The intensity with which young people live demands that they ‘blackout’ as often as possible.
  • Home is a refuge, not only from my worries, my terrible concerns. I like beautiful things around me. I like to be beautiful because it delights my eyes and my soul is lifted up.
  • I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
  • You may not control the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
  • When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
  • Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.
  • If you get, give. If you learn, teach.
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
  • Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.
  • I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love.
  • There are those who say that poets should use her and his art to change the world. I’d agree with that, but I think everybody should do that. I think the chef and the baker and the candlestick maker – I think everybody should be hoping to make it a better world.
  • I believe in living a poetic life, an art full life. Everything we do from the way we raise our children to the way we welcome our friends is part of a large canvas we are creating.
  • I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.
  • Open your eyes to the beauty around you, open your mind to the wonders of life, open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself. 
  • Life is a pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.
  • Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.
  • In the flush of love’s light, we dare to be brave, and suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet, it is only loved which sets us free.
  • I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.
  • Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go
  • Music was my refuge. I could crawl into space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
  • You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that, I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.
  • There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.
  • We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
  • I’m convinced of this: Well done anywhere is well done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.
  • It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
  • I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it.
  • If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
  • A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself.
  • I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.
  • My life has been long and believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things, sometimes trembling, but daring still.
  • Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.
  • I believe that every person is born with talent.
  • I’ve learned that forgiving is one of the greatest gifts that I can give myself.
  • I like to go back and read poems that I wrote fifty years ago, twenty years ago, and sometimes they surprise me – I didn’t know I knew that then. Or maybe I didn’t know it then, and I know more now.
  • I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life”.
  • You listen with interest. That gives some sense of confidence to the speaker.
  • At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself.
  •  I love the song ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Lee Ann Womack. I was going to write that song, but someone beat me to it.
  • In all my work, I try to say, ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?
  • I know for sure that loves to save me and that it is here to save us all. 
  • Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.
  • My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy.
  • Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.
  • Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.
  • A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.
  • Grace is like a lake of drinkable water right outside your door. But you stay inside and die of thirst.
  • Loving someone liberates the lover as well as the beloved. And that kind of love comes with age.
  • Everyone has at least one story, and each of us is funny if we admit it. You have to admit you’re the funniest person you’ve ever heard of.
  • My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
  • When I decided to speak, I had a lot to say.
  • Nobody can enjoy it unless we all enjoy, truly enjoy.
  •  I wrote some of the worst poetry west from the Mississippi River, but I wrote. And I finally sometimes got it right.
  • When I forgive other people, I let them go, I free them from my ignorance. And as soon as I do, I feel lighter, brighter and better.
  • A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
  • Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, ‘I’m going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough. I am going to snow anyway.’
  • I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.
  • This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.
  • The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library.
  • I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.
  • It is a no-fail, incontrovertible reality: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. You can’t do anything with that except do it.

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