129 Beautiful Maya Angelou Quotes To Empower You

Maya Angelou Quotes

Last Updated on July 12, 2021

One of the biggest literary voices in history, Maya Angelou is an African-American storyteller, poet, essayist, and civil rights activist. While Angelou is most known worldwide for her autobiographies and essays, she was also successful in writing poetry and screenplays for both film and television.

She did some acting on the side, too. She is now known as the icon of African-American culture, women, and equality of human rights.

Early Days and Family Life

She was born in St. Louis, Missouri in April 4, 1928 as Marguerite Ann Johnson. In 1994, at the early age of 16, she was in a relationship with someone from her high school and got pregnant. She soon gave birth to a boy she named Clyde.

Maya Angelou Quotes

Clyde later changed his name to Guy Johnson who, eventually, also became a writer. In 1952, she married a Greek sailor named Anastasios Angelopulos. Angelou was also in a relationship with Vusumi Make, a South African freedom fighter who lived in Cairo. Her last marriage was with a writer and carpenter named Paul du Feu who lived in northern California.

Angelou had a lot of different jobs growing up. She danced and cooked at diners for a living. She was the first African-American female to be a streetcar conductor, after a series of failed job interviews. On her dark days, as she recalled on her past interviews, she also worked as a dancer at brothels, a prostitute, and a head madam for other prostitutes.

She said she did everything she could so she could provide for herself and her son. As she began to move forward, she began to have office-based jobs. She was an editor, an office assistant, and finally, an actress. She was most popular for her appearance in “Roots”, a mini television series in 1977. She also became a professor at the Wake Forest University.

Silence Behind One of the World’s Most Powerful Voices

Angelou stopped speaking for five years at one point. She was 8 years old then, when she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. He was convicted and sentenced after Angelou testified against him in court, but was later released from jail.

Only a few days after being freed, the man died and was believed to be killed by her uncle. Angelou thought that her words had “killed” him and so she stopped speaking since then. She was thirteen when she began to speak again. She included this sad memory in her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings“.

Among her biggest influences and inspirations were Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Langston Hughes, and William Shakespeare. She made use of her tragic experiences as a young adult to appeal and speak to her audience, especially to young women, at a level where they could all empathize together as author and reader.

First of Firsts

Angelou’s most famous autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is the first best-seller by an African-American woman in the nonfiction category. It was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her book shed light on sexual exploitation and finding one’s identity as a woman in a world full of male-dominated practices.

She made history yet again when she recited her poem, “On the Pulse of Red Morning”, back in 1993 for former President Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony. Incidentally, she won a Grammy Award for the category of Best Spoken Word Album for the same piece.

She also received a prestigious award from the government of the United States of America, the “National Medal of Arts”, which is the highest honor to ever be received by any artist. One of her screenplays was produced in the film “Georgia, Georgia“, and was the first African-American in history to achieve such a feat.

Living Legacy

Maya Angelou Quotes

Angelou was considered to be the icon of African-American women. During her time, she was criticized by many for “telling her own story”. After some time, she was later admired for her courage and her influence on the world over African-American culture and equality of rights.

It was when she came to San Francisco with her brother and mother after finally speaking again that her political views and beliefs began to take shape and became a big part of who she was as a voice of human rights and equality.

She was moved by Martin Luther King, Jr. after hearing him speak at a local church. She had the chance to work with him and they exchanged views on civil rights. She was known as the voice of black feminists and became an inspiration to many artists, politicians, scholars, and other individuals.

Angelou died at the age of 86 with at least eleven award-winning books, several plays, more than fifty awards and achievements, and more than 20 honorary degrees from prestigious universities.

Maya Angelou Quotes


“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


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


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


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


“I never have written every day. When I’m writing a book, I write Monday through Friday. I always try to take Saturday and pretend to have some sanity.” – Maya Angelou


“You may shoot me with your worlds. You may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness. But still like air, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry, to let my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept their love in return.” – Maya Angelou


“Love recognizes no barriers. Love jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination. Full of hope.” – Maya Angelou


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


“To those who have given up on love. I say “Trust life a little bit.” – Maya Angelou


“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” – Maya Angelou


“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’.” – Maya Angelou

“Loving someone liberates the lover as well as the beloved, and that kind of love comes with age.” – Maya Angelou


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


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


“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 am a woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman. That’s me.” – Maya Angelou


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

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


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


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


“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


“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 love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou


“All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.” – Maya Angelou

“Happiness is a chance to talk to a friend, to hear good music, to have a good glass of wine. Happiness is a chance to be myself and to find people with whom I agree or who I don’t agree but I can learn something.” – Maya Angelou


“I know for sure that love saves me and that it is here to save us all.” – 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


“When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness. All the good things.” – Maya Angelou


“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

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


“Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.” – Maya Angelou


“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


“We are not just flesh and blood. And our hungers are not going to be set aside as just flesh and blood.” – Maya Angelou


“A friend may be waiting behind a strangers face.” – Maya Angelou


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


“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender in its place, was as honerable as resistance. Especially if one had no choice.” – Maya Angelou

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


“God loves me. It still humbles me that this force that makes leaves and fleas and stars and rivers and you, loves me. Me, Maya Angelou. It’s amazing. I can do anything. And do it well. Any good thing I can do it. That’s why I am who I am, yes, because God loves me and I’m amazed at it.” – Maya Angelou


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


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


“Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence, neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish, it is an imponderably valuable gift.” – Maya Angelou


“You alone are enough, you have nothing to prove to anyone.” – Maya Angelou


“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” – Maya Angelou

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


“There is nothing greater that you can say to God than thank you, thank you.” – Maya Angelou


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


“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy.” – Maya Angelou


“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us ins more alike than we are unalike.” – Maya Angelou

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


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


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


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” – Maya Angelou


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

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


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


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


“It is always about the work. In the latter days of your life your happiness and your self-esteem will be determined by the mountains you surmounted, the valleys you climb out of, and the life and /or career that you forged for yourself.” – Maya Angelou


“When you give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou


“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou

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


“History despite it’s wrenching pain cannot be un-lived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – 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


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


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

“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be one my own side.” – 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


“The honorary duty of a human being is to love.” – Maya Angelou


“I learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.” – Maya Angelou


“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.” – Maya Angelou


“The children to whom we read simple stories may or may not show gratitude, but each boon we give strengthens the pillars of the world.” – Maya Angelou


“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


“My work is to be honest. My work is to try to think clearly, then have the courage to make sure that what I say is the truth.” – Maya Angelou

“We must be warriors in the struggle against ignorance.” – Maya Angelou


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


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


“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


“You don’t need another person, place or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it.”- 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

“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 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


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


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


“We may encounter defeats but we must never be defeated.” – Maya Angelou


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

“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


“I’ve learned that forgiving is one of the greatest gifts that I can give myself.” – Maya Angelou


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


“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou


“If you are always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou


“It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. To forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou


“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


“Your belief and your work will speak for you.” – Maya Angelou


“Life loves the liver of it.” – Maya Angelou


“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou


“Effective action is always unjust.” – Maya Angelou


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


“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

“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


“I’ve never had a dislike for men. I’ve been treated badly by some. But I’ve been loved greatly by some.” – Maya Angelou


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


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


“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.” – 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


“When the human race neglects it’s weaker members, when the family neglects the weakest one – it’s the first blow in a suicidal movement.” – Maya Angelou


“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.” – Maya Angelou


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


“I know that a diamond is a result of extreme pressure. Less time and less pressure and it’s just crystal or coal or fossilized leaves or just dirt. But, time and pressure will create a diamond.” – Maya Angelou


“Human beings are more alike than we are un-alike and let us see that and not only cherish but delight in the differences because the differences are superficial and they should delight us.” – 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


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


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


“I got my own back.” – Maya Angelou


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


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


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

“Travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure.” – Maya Angelou


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


“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.” – 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


“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



“Courage – you develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a 100-pound weight without preparing yourself.” – Maya Angelou

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