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Maya Angelou (b. 1928) was an iconic American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She was also a singer, dancer, actress, and professor – but her legacy is primarily her words that left a permanent imprint on the world.
The themes in her writings were greatly influenced by racism, trauma, and silencing she faced as a child which is prevalent in her groundbreaking 1969 autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.
With her impactful writings, and having worked with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to advocate for social justice, Maya Angelou’s quotes & poetry share a timeless message of hope, resilience, celebrating Black womanhood, and compassion.
To honor the legacy of this great lady and poet, I’ve shared 77 best Maya Angelou quotes about life, love, education, success, courage, change, family, women, purpose, and diversity while explaining some of them.
8 Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Life
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.Maya Angelou
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.Maya Angelou
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.Maya Angelou
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.Maya Angelou
This famous ‘people will forget what you said’ quote by Maya Angelou shows how we often don’t exactly remember the words that were spoken or the specific details of the action but the feeling it left behind.
Our brains are filing cabinets for information, but they’re not perfect. Facts, figures, and even entire conversations can disappear over time. But emotions? They’re part of a different system, one that’s linked to our core experiences and deeply part of who we are.
And it’s not even about grand gestures or moments, it’s about the everyday interactions, the small choices we make that ripple outwards. A listening ear, a helping hand, a genuine smile – these seemingly simple acts carry the true power.
So, this Maya Angelou quote about life is a gentle reminder that in the end, it’s not what we say or do, but how we make each other feel that truly matters.
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
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
If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?Maya Angelou
When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.Maya Angelou
People are constantly showing you who they are. They might say one thing, but their actions often speak louder. It’s in their small gestures, their consistent choices, and the way they treat themselves and others.
This quote by Maya Angelou is a powerful illustration of the importance of paying attention to the signals people send us, both through their words and actions.
Now, we often fall into the trap of believing that they have a good reason for behaving that way but don’t wait until they let you down ten times before you believe them. So, the first time they show their true colors, believe them.
By believing them the first time, you’re setting a healthy boundary. You’re saying, “This behavior isn’t okay, and I deserve better.” It doesn’t mean you have to write them off completely. Everyone makes mistakes. But believing them the first time empowers you to make informed decisions and distance yourself from negativity.
8 Maya Angelou Quotes About Love
I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.Maya Angelou
If someone struggles with self-love, would they be able to offer genuine, healthy love to another? It’s like giving away a shirt they desperately need. It might seem generous, but it raises questions about their own well-being and the sustainability of their actions.
Now, we all go through phases of self-discovery, and true love can blossom even in imperfect individuals. But this Maya Angelou quote about love shows how a love expressed from a place of lack, instead of abundance can be unpredictable and imbalanced.
Think of it like this: if someone is pouring from an empty cup, what they offer might be inconsistent or even manipulative. They might seek validation from you to fill their own void, leading to an unhealthy relationship.
So, just because someone says “I love you” doesn’t mean it comes from a place of genuine love and care. We need to be mindful of their actions, their words aligning with their behavior. And if someone’s declarations of love make you feel unsure or uncomfortable, it’s okay to take a step back and assess the situation.
Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.Maya Angelou
Love recognizes no barriers.Maya Angelou
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.Maya Angelou
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
When you love something, you naturally gravitate towards it. You spend hours tinkering, learning, and experimenting, not because you’re forced to, but because you’re driven by an internal flame.
This intrinsic motivation fuels a different kind of dedication. You push yourself further, not for external validation, but for the sheer thrill of growth and mastery. And that’s where the magic happens.
Here’s the thing: chasing money as the ultimate goal can be a double-edged sword. Sure, you might achieve financial success, but if your heart isn’t in it, the journey can feel hollow and unfulfilling. But when you flip the script and prioritize what you love you become deeply invested and your intuition sharpens, as this Maya Angelou saying suggests.
So, dear reader, what sets your soul on fire? What ignites that spark of curiosity and makes you lose track of time? Don’t be afraid to chase that passion, to embrace the journey, and to pour your heart into it.
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.Maya Angelou
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
Love costs all we areMaya Angelou
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
A Brave and Startling Truth.
8 Maya Angelou Quotes About Education
When you learn, teach, when you get, give.Maya Angelou
Teaching what you learn isn’t just about helping others, it’s about solidifying your own understanding. It’s like putting new information to the test, making sure you truly grasp it before passing it on. It can reveal new perspectives and connections you might have missed the first time around. It’s a win-win!
Now, let’s shift gears to the second part: Receiving something always feels good. But the joy of giving is a different kind of happiness. When you share your blessings, you create a circle of generosity, inspiring others to give back in their own way. It’s like planting a seed of kindness that blossoms into a more connected, supportive world.
This Maya Angelou quote about education simply invites us to live a life of reciprocity and growth. It reminds us that knowledge and blessings are meant to be shared, not hoarded.
By embracing this philosophy, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute to a more vibrant, generous community. Remember, the more we learn and give, the more the world learns and receives. It’s a beautiful cycle, and we all have a part to play in it.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.Maya Angelou
In so many ways, segregation shaped me, and education liberated me.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
We must create a climate where people agree that human beings are more alike than unalike. The only way to do that is through education.Maya Angelou
All of us have the need for love, connection, security, and meaning. We all laugh, cry, dream, and hope. We all want to feel valued and belong.
But the question is, Why do we often focus on our differences instead of our common ground? Well, sometimes it’s we might make assumptions about others based on limited information, stereotypes, or personal experiences. And let’s be honest, judging others is often easier than taking the time to truly understand them.
That’s where education comes in, as this quote from Maya Angelou suggests. It’s not just about memorizing facts and figures. It’s about opening our minds and hearts to different perspectives and learning to see the world through someone else’s eyes, even if it’s different from our own.
The good thing is that education can be as simple as having an open conversation with someone different from you or reading a book by an author from another culture. This way, we can celebrate our differences while recognizing the fundamental truths that bind us all.
Education is a process that goes on ’til death. The moment you see someone who knows she has found the one true way, and can call all the others false, then you know you’re in the company of an ignoramus.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
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.Maya Angelou
8 Maya Angelou Quotes About Success
Nothing will work unless you do.Maya Angelou
No matter how grand your plans, how well-intentioned your wishes are, or how detailed your plans are, nothing will materialize without you putting in the effort.
It’s the difference between wishing you were fit and hitting the gym, between dreaming of a successful business and making that first crucial sale.
Think of it like a seed. You can have the most perfect seed in the world, but unless you plant it, water it, and give it sunlight, it won’t sprout into a beautiful flower. You are the gardener, the one who takes the initiative, nurtures the potential and witnesses the growth.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck in the land of “what ifs,” remember this Maya Angelou quote about success and take that first step, plant that seed, and watch the magic unfold.
We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.Maya Angelou
Take as much time as you need to make up your mind, but once it is made up, step out on your decision like it’s something you want.Maya Angelou
If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.Maya Angelou
You may shoot me with your words,Maya Angelou
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
This famous ‘and still i rise quote’ from ‘Still I Rise’ poem by Maya Angelou captures the power of resilience and a sense of self-worth against all odds.
We can take the “you” in the poem to mean anyone who is trying to tear you down – bullies, prejudiced individuals, even your own inner demons.
Their words may even sting, but here’s the key: they cannot define you. They can try to shoot you down, but like air, you are not confined to their limited vision of who you are. You have the strength to soar, unburdened by their negativity.
So, let’s take a deep breath, let the doubt wash away, and rise, like air, unbothered and unstoppable. You have the strength, the resilience, and the spirit to soar and that’s a truth no arrow, no stare, no hate can ever extinguish.
Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.Maya Angelou
Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.Maya Angelou
All great achievements require time.Maya Angelou
8 Maya Angelou Quotes About Courage & Strength
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.Maya Angelou
This Maya Angelou quote about courage is saying courage overshadows our other basic traits, rather it’s like the light that lets you see and use them clearly.
Think about it. Kindness feels wonderful, but standing up for someone vulnerable against a bully takes guts. Honesty is admirable, but admitting a mistake requires bravery. Compassion pulls at your heart, but truly helping someone in need might ask you to step outside your comfort zone.
Without courage, these virtues can’t really become the guiding lights of our lives. But with courage, we can consistently choose kindness, even when it’s scary. We can embrace honesty, even when it’s tough. We can act with compassion, even when it means stepping outside our comfort zone.
More importantly, courage isn’t about being fearless; it’s about doing what’s right, even when we’re afraid. It’s the tiny voice that whispers, “You can do this,” even when our heads scream otherwise.
I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.Maya Angelou
I had to trust life, since I was young enough to believe that life loved the person who dared to live it.Maya Angelou
The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.Maya Angelou
One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.Maya Angelou
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
Without courage, all the other good qualities – kindness, truthfulness, generosity, honesty – become like wilting flowers, lacking the strength to truly bloom. Why? Because each of these virtues requires us to step outside our comfort zone, to face challenges, and sometimes, even risks.
For example, being kind can mean standing up for someone weaker, even when it’s scary. Telling the truth might involve admitting a mistake, which can feel vulnerable. Generosity often means letting go of something we value, and honesty forces us to confront uncomfortable realities.
See where courage comes in? It’s the fuel that moves us forward, the backbone that holds us upright when these situations arise. It’s the voice that whispers, “You can do this, even if it feels hard.”
So, remember this Maya Angelou quote about strength and know that you have the potential for immense courage within you. It might not shout, but it’s there, waiting to be nurtured. And guess what? The more you use it, the stronger it gets. So, be bold, take that first step, and watch your true self blossom with the power of courage.
Further Reading: Six Great Benefits Of Being Courageous In Daily Life
Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.Maya Angelou
Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.’Maya Angelou
I believe that every person is born with talent.Maya Angelou
7 Maya Angelou Quotes About Change
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.Maya Angelou
Let’s break down this Maya Angelou quote about change, step by step…
“If you don’t like something, change it,” reminds us to not just dream about change, but actively seek it out. Whether it’s a job you find unfulfilling, a relationship that feels unbalanced, or even a habit that holds you back, you really can become an architect of your own happiness.
“If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” This isn’t about blind optimism or ignoring reality. It’s about recognizing what you can’t control and choosing how you respond. Instead of stewing in negativity or complaining, cultivate an attitude of acceptance.
And “Don’t complain,” is all about *shifting the focus from negativity to action. Complaining can be a mental trap, draining your energy and keeping you stuck. Instead, we can channel that energy into solutions and live a more fulfilling life.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.Maya Angelou
Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.Maya Angelou
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
I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.Maya Angelou
This Maya Angelou motivational quote refers to the undeniable truth that life shapes us and molds our perspectives, values, and even our very selves.
But here’s the essence of refusing to be reduced. It’s all about acknowledging the impact of experiences, both positive and negative, without letting them define your worth or limit your potential. It’s about learning from hardships, drawing strength from triumphs, and choosing to become the best version of yourself, shaped but not defined by your experiences.
After all, change is inevitable, but growth is a choice. We can choose to see challenges as opportunities, setbacks as stepping stones, and pain as a means of compassion.
So, remember, you are more than the sum of your experiences, you are a river carving your own path, ever-flowing, ever-evolving, and ever-powerful.
Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you… yet, someone survived… You can do anything you choose to do.Maya Angelou
The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.Maya Angelou
8 Maya Angelou Quotes on Family
The love of the family, the love of the person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.Maya Angelou
The “love of the family, the love of the person” is our personal and beautiful cabin of comfort. Whether it’s the hug from your grandma after a bad day, or the whispered “I love you” from your partner after a fight, this love is concrete, a lived experience of connection, acceptance, and belonging.
And whenever the world throws challenges, disappointments, and hurts your way, the love of family offers a safe space to acknowledge them, to share the pain, and to find strength together.
It’s that beautiful feeling of knowing you’re not alone in the healing process.
The best thing is… The love we share, big or small, has the power to mend not just our own wounds, but the wounds of the world around us, as this Maya Angelou quote on family suggests.
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
I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.Maya Angelou
I was told many years ago by my grandmother who raised me:Maya Angelou
If somebody puts you on a road and you don’t feel comfortable on it and you look ahead and you don’t like the destination and you look behind and you don’t want to return to that place, step off the road.
I sustain myself with the love of family.Maya Angelou
This quote about family by Maya Angelou is like a warm hug on a chilly day, isn’t it? But what exactly does it mean to “sustain” ourselves with love? Let’s break it down…
Family love is a bond deeply woven with threads of shared experiences, laughter echoing through memories, and a deep understanding that transcends words. It’s knowing that no matter what life throws your way, you have not just a house but a home with a family who’s ready to celebrate your victories and pick you up when you stumble.
Think of those moments when you felt truly seen and heard by your family. Those moments, big and small, are like nourishment for your soul. They remind you that you’re loved, valued, and belong and that in itself is a powerful force that keeps you going.
And you sustain yourself with their love, but you also contribute to the wellspring of love within your family. A kind word, a helping hand, or simply being present for your loved ones greatly strengthens the bonds that hold you all together.
Love is many things. It is varied. One thing love is not, is unsure.Maya Angelou
Families are held together by choice. Members are alike and unalike, yet there is comfort in the sameness and excitement in the differences. When we respect and relish both conditions, we can call ourselves family.Maya Angelou
Home is a refuge, not only from the world but a refuge from my worries, my terrible concerns.Maya Angelou
8 Maya Angelou Quotes About Women
Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.Maya Angelou
Just like ripples spread outwards, wider and wider until they reach every corner of the pond, this Maya Angelou quote about women shows how whenever and wherever a woman stands up for herself, she does it for all the women of the world.
The thing is… Your act of courage inspires others, whether you see it or not. It shows them that they too have the right to stand up, to be heard, to be respected.
And that’s the beauty of Maya Angelou’s words. She’s not saying that every woman has to be a superhero. She’s saying that every small act of self-respect, every time you choose your own voice becomes part of a collective wave, pushing back against injustice, inequality, and discrimination.
So ladies, stand up for yourself. Do it with your head held high, your voice strong, and the knowledge that you are not alone. You are part of something bigger, a movement that is changing the world, one brave act at a time. And that’s something pretty darn powerful.
I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.Maya Angelou
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a b*tch. You’ve got to go out and kick a*s.Maya Angelou
A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.Maya Angelou
I am a WomanMaya Angelou
“I am a Woman”: is all about claiming an identity as a woman. This simple statement can hold so much power, especially for those women like Maya Angelou herself who have been told their voice doesn’t matter or their identity shouldn’t exist.
“Phenomenally.”: is not just about being “good” or “capable,” it’s about being extraordinary. It’s about a woman defying limitations, shattering expectations, and rising beyond what anyone thought possible.
“Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.”: This is the center of Maya Angelou’s quote, the brilliant moment of self-ownership. It’s not just about being a phenomenal woman in general; it’s about recognizing that you yourself embody that phenomenal spirit.
In simple words, this quote about women is a reminder that we are all capable of greatness, of defying expectations, and of rising above. We are all on this journey together, lifting each other up and reminding the world of the extraordinary strength and beauty that lies within us all.
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
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
Encouragement to all women is – let us try to offer help before we have to offer therapy. That is to say, let’s see if we can’t prevent being ill by trying to offer a love of prevention before illness.Maya Angelou
6 Maya Angelou Quotes About Purpose
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.Maya Angelou
Our inner light is a spark of passion, creativity, kindness, or whatever makes you uniquely you. It’s the fire in our belly, the twinkle in our eye, the thing that makes us come alive.
And while the external powers and our own negative thinking can whisper insecurities in our ears, or even try to extinguish our flame altogether, the key thing to remember is that they’re external. They come from outside, not from within.
Your inner light, that spark of who you truly are, is like a hidden ember, it never truly goes out. It has the power to withstand any storm, as long as you nurture it and choose to fan its flames.
So, remember this Maya Angelou quote about purpose and do things that make you feel alive, surround yourself with positive people, practice self-compassion, and more importantly, always believe in yourself.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.Maya Angelou
We need much less than we think we need.Maya Angelou
I’m grateful to be of use. I will not be misused or abused, but I will be of use to anybody.Maya Angelou
Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.Maya Angelou
Think about the times you’ve held the door open for a stranger, offered a listening ear to a friend in need, or simply smiled at someone passing by. These seemingly small gestures contribute to the overall warmth and beauty of our lives.
Now, we don’t have to become a superhero or solve global issues but we can always try to infuse our life with the intention to seek opportunities, big or small, to make a positive difference, as this quote from Maya Angelou tells us.
After all, every act of kindness, every moment of compassion, adds a thread of hope and love to make the world a little bit brighter, a little bit better.
So, let’s not wait for some grand moment to arrive. Let’s embrace the every day, the small interactions, the opportunities to spread a little bit of light, because even the tiniest threads, when woven together, can create something truly magnificent.
When we decide to be happy we accept the responsibility to bring happiness to someone else.Maya Angelou
8 Maya Angelou Quotes on Diversity & Community
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.Maya Angelou
How does prejudice confuse the past? Well, think about history. Throughout time, prejudice has tainted our understanding of events, people, and cultures. When we view the past through the lens of prejudice, we overlook the contributions of marginalized groups and fail to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Now, let’s talk about how prejudice threatens the future. When we allow prejudice to take root, we’re sabotaging our collective future. We’re robbing future generations of the opportunity to live in a world where everyone is valued and respected regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background.
Lastly, when we’re blinded by prejudice, we miss out on the chance to connect with people who are different from us, to learn from their perspectives, and to grow as individuals. Prejudice locks us in a narrow-minded mindset, preventing us from embracing the richness of the world around us.
Now, let’s tie this Maya Angelou quote about prejudice back to her. Throughout her life, Maya Angelou was a fierce advocate for equality and civil rights. She used her voice, her writing, and her activism to challenge prejudice and promote understanding, thus, she inspired countless women and men people to confront their own biases and work towards a more inclusive society.
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.Maya Angelou
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.Maya Angelou
I wish that we could look into each other’s faces, in each other’s eyes, and see our own selves. I hope that the children have not been so scarred by their upbringing that they only think fear when they see someone else who looks separate from them.Maya Angelou
The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.Maya Angelou
This Maya Angelou quote about diversity is a gentle reminder for us that our freedom is deeply intertwined with the freedom of others. As long as any other person remains trapped, our own freedom will be incomplete.
After all, when one link is shackled, the entire chain is held back. Injustice anywhere, as Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, diminishes justice everywhere.
The cries of the oppressed go far and beyond in the hearts of even the seemingly free, casting a shadow on their joy. And by fighting for the freedom of others, we push back the fences of oppression.
In the end, when we lift each other up, we all rise together. So let’s join hands, break down the fences, and cultivate a meadow of freedom so vast and inclusive, it knows no bounds. In doing so, we’ll be able to create communities with the truest freedom of all.
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
If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up.Maya Angelou
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.
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
Read ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou
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