All Time Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

Maya Angelou Quotes

Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was a prominent American memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist, known for her impactful contributions spanning over 50 years. Her acclaimed autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969), gained international recognition, detailing her life up to age 17. Transitioning from diverse jobs like fry cook and sex worker, Angelou emerged as a poet and writer. Active in the Civil Rights Movement, she collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Notably, she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. Angelou, the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, challenged autobiography norms and addressed themes of racism, identity, and family. Despite the controversy, her works remain widely used in education, reflecting her role as a revered advocate for Black culture and women’s rights.

Maya Angelou Quotes

1. “Nothing will work unless you do.”
— Maya Angelou

2. “All great achievements require time.”
— Maya Angelou

3. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

4. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
— Maya Angelou

5. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
— Maya Angelou

6. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
— Maya Angelou

7. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
— Maya Angelou

8. “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
— Maya Angelou

9. “Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.”
— Maya Angelou

10. “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”
— Maya Angelou

11. “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
— Maya Angelou

12. “Live as though life was created for you.”
— Maya Angelou

13. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
— Maya Angelou

14. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
— Maya Angelou

15. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
— Maya Angelou

16. “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.”
— Maya Angelou

17. “When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”
— Maya Angelou

18. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

19. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
— Maya Angelou

20. “Success is loving life and daring to live it.”
— Maya Angelou

21. “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
— Maya Angelou

22. “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

23. “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”
— Maya Angelou

24. “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”
— Maya Angelou

25. “When you know better you do better.”
— Maya Angelou

26. “Still I’ll rise.”
— Maya Angelou

27. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
— Maya Angelou

28. “As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”
— Maya Angelou

29. “But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
— Maya Angelou

30. “If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.”
— Maya Angelou

31. “I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.”
— Maya Angelou

32. “Making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”
— Maya Angelou

33. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
— Maya Angelou

34. “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
— Maya Angelou

35. “As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may not remember your name but they will never forget the way you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

36. “First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”
— Maya Angelou

37. “I come as one, but stand as 10,000.”
— Maya Angelou

38. “I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.”
— Maya Angelou

39. “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
— Maya Angelou

40. “There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.”
— Maya Angelou

41. “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
— Maya Angelou

42. “You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
— Maya Angelou

43. “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!”
— Maya Angelou

44. “Every journey begins with a single step.”
— Maya Angelou

45. “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”
— Maya Angelou

46. “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
— Maya Angelou

47. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
— Maya Angelou

48. “Hate, has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
— Maya Angelou

49. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
— Maya Angelou

50. “No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
— Maya Angelou

51. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
— Maya Angelou

52. “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”
— Maya Angelou

53. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
— Maya Angelou

54. “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
— Maya Angelou

55. “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”
— Maya Angelou

56. “Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”
— Maya Angelou

57. “This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”
— Maya Angelou

58. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

59. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
— Maya Angelou

60. “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
— Maya Angelou

61. “You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.”
— Maya Angelou

62. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
— Maya Angelou

63. “Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
— Maya Angelou

64. “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
— Maya Angelou

65. “And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.”
— Maya Angelou

66. “Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”
— Maya Angelou

67. “Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”
— Maya Angelou

68. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
— Maya Angelou

69. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
— Maya Angelou

70. “In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.”
— Maya Angelou

71. “You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust, I’ll rise.”
— Maya Angelou

72. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

73. “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
— Maya Angelou

74. “I want to thank you, Lord, for life and all that’s in it. Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute.”
— Maya Angelou

75. “If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.”
— Maya Angelou

76. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

77. “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”
— Maya Angelou

78. “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
— Maya Angelou

79. “To those who are given much, much is expected.”
— Maya Angelou

80. “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”
— Maya Angelou

81. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
— Maya Angelou

82. “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
— Maya Angelou

83. “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats.”
— Maya Angelou

84. “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.”
— Maya Angelou

85. “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
— Maya Angelou

86. “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
— Maya Angelou

87. “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.”
— Maya Angelou

88. “While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”
— Maya Angelou

89. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

90. “Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.”
— Maya Angelou

91. “Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.”
— Maya Angelou

92. “The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don’t know my story…”
— Maya Angelou

93. “Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”
— Maya Angelou

94. “Freedom is never free.”
— Maya Angelou

95. “Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.”
— Maya Angelou

96. “A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”
— Maya Angelou

97. “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
— Maya Angelou

98. “A woman who is convinced that she deserves to accept only the best challenges herself to give the best. Then she is living phenomenally.”
— Maya Angelou

99. “Don’t let the man bring you down.”
— Maya Angelou

100. “No one can take the place of a friend, no one.”
— Maya Angelou

101. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. Please remember that your difficulties do not define you. They simply strengthen your ability to overcome.”
— Maya Angelou

102. “We are only as blind as we want to be.”
— Maya Angelou

103. “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
— Maya Angelou

104. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

105. “A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.”
— Maya Angelou

106. “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
— Maya Angelou

107. “Some people cannot see a good thing when it is right here, right now. Others can sense a good thing coming when it is days, months, or miles away.”
— Maya Angelou

108. “Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.”
— Maya Angelou

109. “Poetry puts starch in your backbone so you can stand, so you can compose your life.”
— Maya Angelou

110. “Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren’t, we should behave as though we are – cheerful, kind, loving, courteous. Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.”
— Maya Angelou

111. “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.”
— Maya Angelou

112. “There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”
— Maya Angelou

113. “Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.”
— Maya Angelou

114. “We are more alike than unalike.”
— Maya Angelou

115. “The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.”
— Maya Angelou

116. “While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
— Maya Angelou

117. “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
— Maya Angelou

118. “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.”
— Maya Angelou

119. “At our best, we are all teachers.”
— Maya Angelou

120. “People will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

121. “It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.”
— Maya Angelou

122. “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”
— Maya Angelou

123. “Difficult is a far cry from impossible. The distance between these two lies in hope. Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.”
— Maya Angelou

124. “You may not remember what a person said to you, you may not remember what a person did to you, but you will never forget how a person made you feel!”
— Maya Angelou

125. “If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.”
— Maya Angelou

126. “I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
— Maya Angelou

127. “I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears, and the dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
— Maya Angelou

128. “Whining is not only graceless but can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood.”
— Maya Angelou

129. “The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.”
— Maya Angelou

130. “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”
— Maya Angelou

131. “When women take care of their health they become their own best friend.”
— Maya Angelou

132. “Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives.”
— Maya Angelou

133. “Courage allows the successful woman to fail – and to learn powerful lessons from the failure – so that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.”
— Maya Angelou

134. “Just like moons and suns, With certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.”
— Maya Angelou

135. “Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”
— Maya Angelou

136. “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.”
— Maya Angelou

137. “Ritie, don’t worry ’cause you ain’t pretty. Plenty pretty women I have seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.”
— Maya Angelou

138. “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
— Maya Angelou

139. “Beneath the skin, beyond the differing features and into the true heart of being, fundamentally, we are more alike, my friend, than we are unalike.”
— Maya Angelou

140. “I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.”
— Maya Angelou

141. “When we cast our bread upon the waters we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from the grantor’s gift.”
— Maya Angelou

142. “We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”
— Maya Angelou

143. “We need Joy as we need air. We need Love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share.”
— Maya Angelou

144. “If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you, and look behind you and don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path!”
— Maya Angelou

145. “I always felt, if I can get to a library, I’ll be OK.”
— Maya Angelou

146. “Thank you, always say thank you; it’s the greatest gift you can give someone; because thank you is what you say to God.”
— Maya Angelou

147. “I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.”
— Maya Angelou

148. “I want to be a good human being. I’m doing my best, and I’m working at it.”
— Maya Angelou

149. “Love liberates; it doesn’t bind.”
— Maya Angelou

150. “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”
— Maya Angelou

151. “Life sometimes gives you a second chance.”
— Maya Angelou

152. “I sustain myself with the love of family.”
— Maya Angelou

153. “I’ve got a magic charm That I keep up my sleeve, I can walk the ocean floor And never have to breathe.”
— Maya Angelou

154. “Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more.”
— Maya Angelou

155. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

156. “Lord keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth.”
— Maya Angelou

157. “We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate – thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.”
— Maya Angelou

158. “I have heard it said that winter, too, will pass, that spring is a sign that summer is due at last. See, all we have to do is hang on.”
— Maya Angelou

159. “God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of hope.”
— Maya Angelou

160. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

161. “If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived?”
— Maya Angelou

162. “Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life.”
— Maya Angelou

163. “The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.”
— Maya Angelou

164. “Don’t bring negative to my door.”
— Maya Angelou

165. “Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.”
— Maya Angelou

166. “Poetry is music written for the human voice.”
— Maya Angelou

167. “Strong women- precious jewels all their humanness is evident in their accessibility. We are able to enter into the spirit of these women and rejoice in their warmth and courage.”
— Maya Angelou

168. “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”
— Maya Angelou

169. “My mother is so full of joy and life. I am her child. And that is better than being the child of anyone else in the world.”
— Maya Angelou

170. “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
— Maya Angelou

171. “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. 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.”
— Maya Angelou

172. “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”
— Maya Angelou

173. “A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself.”
— Maya Angelou

174. “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 bird sings of freedom.”
— Maya Angelou

175. “I am a child of God. I always carry that with me.”
— Maya Angelou

176. “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
— Maya Angelou

177. “Love liberates. Love – not sentimentality, not mush – but true love gives you enough courage that you can say to somebody, “Don’t do that, baby.” And the person will know you’re not preaching but teaching.”
— Maya Angelou

178. “I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.”
— Maya Angelou

179. “Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, ‘I have fallen, but I will get up.’”
— Maya Angelou

180. “I know why the caged bird sings.”
— Maya Angelou

181. “When you know you are of worth, you don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to become rude, you don’t have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn’t have to protest.”
— Maya Angelou

182. “If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up. Lift a stranger up – lift her up. I would ask you, mother and father, brother and sister, lovers, mother and daughter, father and son, lift someone. The very idea of lifting someone up will lift you, as well.”
— Maya Angelou

183. “You build your ‘COURAGE MUSCLE’ daily, by being courageous in little things. Just do right…”
— Maya Angelou

184. “Love is many things. It is varied. One thing love is not is unsure.”
— Maya Angelou

185. “She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.”
— Maya Angelou

186. “The area where we are the greatest is the area in which we inspire, encourage, and connect with another human being.”
— Maya Angelou

187. “It’s not where your dreams take you, it’s where you take your dreams.”
— Maya Angelou

188. “Light and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin. We can illuminate our paths or darken our way. It is a matter of choice.”
— Maya Angelou

189. “Hope is born again in the faces of children.”
— Maya Angelou

190. “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.”
— Maya Angelou

191. “Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure.”
— Maya Angelou

192. “My son is the best thing that ever happened to me. And through me – to a lot of people.”
— Maya Angelou

193. “Determine to live life with flair and laughter.”
— Maya Angelou

194. “We need much less than we think we need.”
— Maya Angelou

195. “I believe that every person is born with talent.”
— Maya Angelou

196. “We are all human; therefore, nothing human can be alien to us.”
— Maya Angelou

197. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.”
— Maya Angelou

198. “I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, and adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
— Maya Angelou

199. “We are not our brother’s keeper we are our brother and we are our sister. We must look past complexion and see community.”
— Maya Angelou

200. “Still, when it looked like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.”
— Maya Angelou

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