Maya Angelou Quotes

Maya Angelou was a phenomenal woman, and her words of wisdom continue to inspire people all over the world. She was a poet, author, actress, and civil rights activist who dedicated her life to helping others. Maya’s words are powerful and full of wisdom, which is why her quotes have been shared and treasured for decades. Here are some of the best quotes from Maya Angelou that will help motivate you to be your best self.

  • I did work in a strip club, but I didn’t strip. I danced, and I became very popular.

    Maya Angelou
  • If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • Nothing will work unless you do.

    Maya Angelou
  • I would be a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool – and I’m not any of those – to say that I don’t write for the reader. I do. But for the reader who hears, who really will work at it, going behind what I seem to say. So I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues.

    Maya Angelou
  • I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona – no lime. If the phone rings, I won’t answer until I’m done.

    Maya Angelou
  • I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • 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
  • I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I’m praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I’m grateful that I’m heard.

    Maya Angelou
  • You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’

    Maya Angelou
  • A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.

    Maya Angelou
  • The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.

    Maya Angelou
  • I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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.

    Maya Angelou
  • In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.

    Maya Angelou
  • My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.

    Maya Angelou
  • Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

    Maya Angelou
  • If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.

    Maya Angelou
  • All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.

    Maya Angelou
  • How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • It’s good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • 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
  • Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up.

    Maya Angelou
  • Fighting for one’s freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good Jew or a good Muslim or good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again.

    Maya Angelou
  • Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.

    Maya Angelou
  • What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.

    Maya Angelou
  • Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.

    Maya Angelou
  • There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

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

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

    Maya Angelou
  • Won’t it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.

    Maya Angelou
  • My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.

    Maya Angelou
  • I got my own back.

    Maya Angelou
  • Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.

    Maya Angelou
  • I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too.

    Maya Angelou
  • If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.

    Maya Angelou
  • The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

    Maya Angelou
  • We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans – because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone – because we have the impulse to explain who we are.

    Maya Angelou
  • The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you’re wrinkled.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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.

    Maya Angelou
  • If we accept being talked to any kind of a way, then we are telling ourselves we are not quite worth the best. And if we have the effrontery to talk to anybody with less than courtesy, we tell ourselves and the world we are not very intelligent.

    Maya Angelou
  • The loss of young first love is so painful that it borders on the ludicrous.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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.

    Maya Angelou
  • If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.

    Maya Angelou
  • All great achievements require time.

    Maya Angelou
  • The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.

    Maya Angelou
  • I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

    Maya Angelou
  • Achievement brings its own anticlimax.

    Maya Angelou
  • Once you appreciate one of your blessings, one of your senses, your sense of hearing, then you begin to respect the sense of seeing and touching and tasting, you learn to respect all the senses.

    Maya Angelou
  • A cynical young person is almost the saddest sight to see, because it means that he or she has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.

    Maya Angelou
  • We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.

    Maya Angelou
  • I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m just like you – I want to be a good human being. I’m doing my best, and I’m working at it. And I’m trying to be a Christian. I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I always think, ‘Already? You’ve already got it?’ I’m working at it. And at my age, I’ll still be working at it at 96.

    Maya Angelou
  • I admire people who dare to take the language, English, and understand it and understand the melody.

    Maya Angelou
  • My mom was a terrible parent of young children. And thank God – I thank God every time I think of it – I was sent to my paternal grandmother. Ah, but my mother was a great parent of a young adult.

    Maya Angelou
  • It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good 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.

    Maya Angelou
  • Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

    Maya Angelou
  • Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.

    Maya Angelou
  • I do like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them. But I like – if somebody is going to come into my house and I have not put out the welcome mat, I want to stop them.

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

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

    Maya Angelou
  • There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.

    Maya Angelou
  • Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.

    Maya Angelou
  • I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other human beings.

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.

    Maya Angelou
  • Don’t get older just to get wiser. If you get older, you will be wiser, I believe that – if you dare. But get older because it’s fun!

    Maya Angelou
  • How wonderful it is to be an American. We have known the best of times and the worst of times.

    Maya Angelou
  • The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.

    Maya Angelou
  • I know that I’m not the easiest person to live with. The challenge I put on myself is so great that the person I live with feels himself challenged. I bring a lot to bear, and I don’t know how not to.

    Maya Angelou
  • The hope, the hope that lives in the breast of the black American, is just so tremendous that it overwhelms me sometimes.

    Maya Angelou
  • At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself.

    Maya Angelou
  • Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

    Maya Angelou
  • Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more.

    Maya Angelou
  • We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m always disappointed when people don’t live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.

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

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • Life loves the liver of it.

    Maya Angelou
  • When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

    Maya Angelou
  • Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

    Maya Angelou
  • Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

    Maya Angelou
  • Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.

    Maya Angelou
  • I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.

    Maya Angelou
  • The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m grateful to intelligent people. That doesn’t mean educated. That doesn’t mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call ‘mother wit’ means intelligence that you had in your mother’s womb. That’s what you rely on. You know what’s right to do.

    Maya Angelou
  • Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

    Maya Angelou
  • Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.’

    Maya Angelou
  • I keep a hotel room in my town, although I have a large house. And I go there at about 5:30 in the morning, and I start working. And I don’t allow anybody to come in that room. I work on yellow pads and with ballpoint pens. I keep a Bible, a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a bottle of sherry. I stay there until midday.

    Maya Angelou
  • The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken.

    Maya Angelou
  • 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
  • Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.

    Maya Angelou
  • In a magazine, one can get – from cover to cover – 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it.

    Maya Angelou
  • The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.

    Maya Angelou
  • We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name.

    Maya Angelou
  • If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

    Maya Angelou
  • I believe that every person is born with talent.

    Maya Angelou
  • Effective action is always unjust.

    Maya Angelou
  • Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.

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

    Maya Angelou
  • Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.

    Maya Angelou
  • Whenever I want to laugh, I read a wonderful book, ‘Children’s Letters to God.’ You can open it anywhere. One I read recently said, ‘Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.’

    Maya Angelou
  • You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.

    Maya Angelou
  • I’m interested in women’s health because I’m a woman. I’d be a darn fool not to be on my own side.

    Maya Angelou
  • Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.

    Maya Angelou
  • All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.

    Maya Angelou
  • We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.

    Maya Angelou
  • It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.

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

    Maya Angelou
  • What humility does for one is it reminds us that there are people before me. I have already been paid for. And what I need to do is prepare myself so that I can pay for someone else who has yet to come but who may be here and needs me.

    Maya Angelou
  • If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.

    Maya Angelou
  • If you will have a person enslaved, the first thing you must do is convince yourself that the person is subhuman. The second thing you have to do is convince your allies so you’ll have some help, and the third and probably unkindest cut of all is to convince that person that he or she is subhuman and deserves it.

    Maya Angelou
  • Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink you want more.

    Maya Angelou