Maya Angelou Quotes

Most popular Maya Angelou Quotes

What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.
— Maya Angelou

complaining

Nothing will work unless you do.
— Maya Angelou

action motivational

I'll protest like the dickens, but I don't complain. After hearing someone complain, my grandmother would say, "There are people all over the world, Black and White, rich and poor, who went to sleep when that person went to sleep, and they have never awakened. They would give anything for five minutes of what that person was complaining about."
— Maya Angelou

complaining

The man who is a bigot is the worst thing God has got.
— Maya Angelou

bigotry prejudice

Have enough courage to love.
— Maya Angelou

courage love

Love, by nature, exacts a pain unequalled on the rack.
— Maya Angelou
Living life as art requires a readiness to forgive.
— Maya Angelou

forgiveness

Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
— Maya Angelou

forgiveness

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.
— Maya Angelou

forgiveness

One person standing on the Word of God is the majority.
— Maya Angelou

morals

Life loves the liver of it.
— Maya Angelou (Black Scholar)

life

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
— Maya Angelou
The future was plump with promise.
— Maya Angelou (All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes)

future

When old folks laugh, they free the world.
— Maya Angelou
Poetry is music written for the human voice.
— Maya Angelou (The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets)

poetry

A person's speech is a mirror to her or his soul.
— Maya Angelou

speech

Spirit is an invisible force made visible in all life.
— Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)
I do my best because I'm counting on you counting on me.
— Maya Angelou

doing your best

All people use food for more reasons than mere nutrition.
— Maya Angelou

food

Hold those things that tell your history and protect them.
— Maya Angelou
What child can resist a mother who laughs freely and often?
— Maya Angelou

parenting

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.
— Maya Angelou
Honey, tired don't mean lazy, and every goodbye ain't gone.
— Maya Angelou
I'd rather be an old man's darling than a young man's slave.
— Maya Angelou
Love is like a virus.  It can happen to anybody at any time.
— Maya Angelou (The Heart of a Woman)

love

There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends.
— Maya Angelou

friendship

All knowledge is spendable currency depending upon the market.
— Maya Angelou

knowledge

Blithering ignorance can be found wherever you choose to live.
— Maya Angelou

ignorance

We can only know where we're going if we know where we've been.
— Maya Angelou (in Parade)

history

Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego—love liberates!
— Maya Angelou

love

All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart.
— Maya Angelou

art heart

Only poets care about what happened to the snows of yesteryear.
— Maya Angelou

poetry

The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.
— Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

change

When cane straps flog the body dark and lean, you feel the blow.
— Maya Angelou
You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
— Maya Angelou (Bell Telephone Magazine)

creativity

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

writing

I mean to make myself more to deal with than the brute can handle.
— Maya Angelou
The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear.
— Maya Angelou

friendship listening

If a little learning is dangerous, a little fame can be devastating.
— Maya Angelou

fame

My mother says a woman who will tell her own age will tell anything.
— Maya Angelou

women

Here then is my Christian lack: If I'm struck then I'll strike back.
— Maya Angelou
I was born to work up to my grave 
But I was not born 
To be a slave.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans slavery

Jealousy is conceived only in insecurity and must be nourished in fear.
— Maya Angelou (Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas)

insecurity jealousy

If one has courage, nothing can dim the light which shines from within.
— Maya Angelou

courage

Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.
— Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

alternatives children human nature

A conversation between friends can sound as melodic as a scripted song.
— Maya Angelou
I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.
— Maya Angelou
Talent is like electricity.  We don't understand electricity.  We use it.
— Maya Angelou (Black Women Writers at Work)

talent

The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.
— Maya Angelou

compassion

Content is of great importance, but we must not underrate the value of style.
— Maya Angelou

style

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
— Maya Angelou
How could I explain a young Black boy to a grown man who had been born White?
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans race

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.
— Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

personal

I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person.
— Maya Angelou

smile

The problem for the thief is not how to steal the trumpet, but where to blow it.
— Maya Angelou
If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.
— Maya Angelou

dreams imagination

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and be told, "I am with you kid.  Let's go!"
— Maya Angelou (And Still We Rise: Interviews with 50 Black Role Models)

life

Let the brain go to work, let it meet the heart, and you will be able to forgive.
— Maya Angelou

forgiveness

Not only was cleanliness next to godliness, dirtiness was the inventor of misery.
— Maya Angelou
There was going to be a storm and it was a perfect night for rereading Jane Eyre.
— Maya Angelou

reading

Black entertainers have had to be ten times better than anyone else, historically.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

The wise woman thinks twice and speaks once or, better yet, does not speak at all.
— Maya Angelou

women

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.
— Maya Angelou (Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou)

normal

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
— Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

Giving

Tragedy, no matter how sad, becomes boring to those not caught in its addictive caress.
— Maya Angelou

tragedy

If our children are to approve of themselves, they must see that we approve of ourselves.
— Maya Angelou

parenting

We must be suspicious of censors who say they mean to prohibit our art for our own welfare.
— Maya Angelou

art censorship

My hand is at the small of your back; I may let you stumble, but I will never let you fall.
— Maya Angelou
God has been very good to me. I attempt to go everywhere spreading an attitude of gratitude.
— Maya Angelou

gratitude

To be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.
— Maya Angelou
One must learn to care for oneself first, so that one can then dare to care for someone else.
— Maya Angelou (Negro History Bulletin)

caring

Language.  I loved it. And for a long time I would think of myself, of my whole body, as an ear.
— Maya Angelou (in The New York Times)

language

Bitterness is like cancer.  It eats upon the host.  But anger is like fire.  It burns all clean.
— Maya Angelou (Writing Lives: Conversations Between Women Writers)

anger

When people speak with brutal honesty, what is most remembered is the brutality, not the honesty.
— Maya Angelou

honesty kindness

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

courage

I don't go for that hate talk. Negroes ain't got time to be hating anybody. We got to get together.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans race

Coming events will affect me, however my prayer and determination are that they will not reduce me.
— Maya Angelou
Let me tell so much truth. I want to tell the truth in my work. The truth will lead me to the light.
— Maya Angelou

truth

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
— Maya Angelou (Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas)

music personal

A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing...prepared to be herself and only herself.
— Maya Angelou
Music was my refuge.  I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
— Maya Angelou (Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas)

music

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 (All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes)

home

African and Southern Black American women can exude a charm which acts as a narcotic on their targets.
— Maya Angelou

African-American women

The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished and pruned, pricks most deeply and draws more blood.
— Maya Angelou (All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes)

family parenting

The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished, and pruned pricks most deeply and draws more blood.
— Maya Angelou
When I pray something wonderful happens, not only for the person that I am praying for, but also for me.
— Maya Angelou

prayer

Thus we lived through a major war. The question in the ghettos was, Can we make it through a minor peace?
— Maya Angelou
Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.
— Maya Angelou

prejudice

It was a traditional ruse that was used to shield the Black vulnerability; we laughed to keep from crying.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

Unbidden would come the painful reminder—"Not all slaves were stolen, nor were all slave dealers European."
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

If I am comfortable inside my skin, I have the ability to make other people comfortable inside their skins.
— Maya Angelou

be yourself

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

the past

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
— Maya Angelou

history pain

Although as Black people we had a dignity and a love of life, those qualities had to be defended constantly.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

I commend lovers, I am en-heartened by lovers, I am encouraged by their courage and inspired by their passion.
— Maya Angelou
The command to grow up at once was more bearable than the faceless horror of wavering purpose, which was youth.
— Maya Angelou

growing up youth

Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savior, but too much can spoil the pleasure.
— Maya Angelou

jealousy

We must ask questions and find answers that will help us to avoid dissolving into the merciless maw of history.
— Maya Angelou

action

Though there's one thing that I cry for 
I believe enough to die for 
That is every man's responsibility to man.
— Maya Angelou

service

I try to plant peace if I do not want discord; to plant loyalty and honesty if I want to avoid betrayal and lies.
— 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 (Gather Together in My Name)

self-pity

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

self-pity

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
— Maya Angelou (The Butterfly’s Daughter)

hard work self-improvement

My wish for you
Is that you continue
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer.
— Maya Angelou (Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer)

gratitude kneeling

Parents who tell their offspring that sex is an act performed only for procreation do everyone a serious disservice.
— Maya Angelou

parenting sex

Art was the flower of life and despite the years of ill treatment black artists were among its most glorious blossoms.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

Through the centuries of despair and dislocation, we had been creative, because we faced down death by daring to hope.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans hope

There is no failure as long as you learn from your experience, continue to work, and continue to press on for success.
— Maya Angelou

failure

If I wanted to write, I had to be willing to develop a kind of concentration found mostly in people awaiting execution.
— Maya Angelou (The Heart of a Woman)

concentration writers

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

feminism women

Independence is a heady draft, and if you drink it in your youth it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine.
— Maya Angelou

independence

I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything.
— Maya Angelou

faith

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a woman called by a devaluing name will only be weakened by the misnomer.
— Maya Angelou

women

A textured guilt was my familiar, my bedmate to whom I had turned my back. My daily companion whose hand I would not hold.
— Maya Angelou
Don't be a prisoner of ignorance. The world is larger, far more complicated, and far more wonderful than ignorance allows.
— Maya Angelou

ignorance

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

race unity

Always be concerned when a naked man offers you his shirt; a person can't love you if he or she can't love him- or herself.
— Maya Angelou

love

The South of the United States can be so compellingly beautiful that sophisticated creature comforts diminish in importance.
— 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

believe in yourself self-respect

Ignorance is not genetic. A lack of courage allows us to remain blinded to our own history and deaf to the cries of our past.
— Maya Angelou
We must wage a ceaseless battle against the forces of greed and hatred which are the foundations of all political inequality.
— Maya Angelou

inspirational

Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.  We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
— Maya Angelou (USA Today)

courage

Together, we may be able to plan a less painful future. Separate, we can only anticipate further ruptures and deeper loneliness.
— Maya Angelou

unity

In order to survive, the ample soul needs refreshments and reminders daily of its right to be and to be wherever it finds itself.
— Maya Angelou
A woman is careful with judgment, is courteous, has courage, and is much given to kindness, support, and respect for other women.
— Maya Angelou

women

The trouble for the receiver is not just how to accept a gift (even the gift of fame) but with what grace the recipient shares it.
— Maya Angelou

charity

The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects—nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs—ball them together and make them bounce.
— Maya Angelou (Smithsonian)

parts of speech

When I was young I often wondered how I appeared to people around me, but I never thought to see myself in relation to the entire world.
— Maya Angelou

identity introspection

They've laughed to shield their crying
then shuffled though the dreams
and stepped 'n fetched a country
to write the blues with screams.
— Maya Angelou (Maya Angelou: Poems)

blues

If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.
— Maya Angelou
Continue to plant a kiss of concern on the cheek of the sick and the aged and infirm and count that action as natural and to be expected.
— Maya Angelou

compassion

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

dealing with people relationships

I believe that there lives a burning desire in the most sequestered private heart of every American, a desire to belong to a great country.
— Maya Angelou

America

In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons. The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.
— Maya Angelou
I am much happier at receiving small gifts and more delighted to be a donor of large gifts. And all of that because I am settled in my home.
— Maya Angelou
It is said that courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue with consistency.
— Maya Angelou

courage

Let me remind all women that we live longer and better lives when we have sisters we love, not necessarily born in our bloodline or of our race.
— Maya Angelou

women

And my breasts—it's better not to mention them at all except to say that they seemed to be in a race to see which could be first to reach my knees.
— Maya Angelou

aging funny

The black child must learn early to allow laughter to fill his mouth or the million small cruelties he encounters will congeal and clog his throat.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

I have a certain way of being in this world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved from doing what I think is right by jealousy, ignorance, or hate.
— Maya Angelou
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

faith gratitude

I am never proud to participate in violence, yet I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves to be ready and able to come to our own defense.
— Maya Angelou

violence

I wanted to be a wife and to create a beautiful home to make my man happy, but there was more to life than being a diligent maid with a permanent pussy.
— Maya Angelou

women

Cooking is like writing poetry: Be careful in the choice of your ingredients and respectful of how they work together. That's true of all efforts in life.
— Maya Angelou
One can never know too many good people. One must be open to what life has to bring. I have learned that a friend may be waiting behind a stranger's smile.
— Maya Angelou

strangers

We were scorning the symbol of hypocrisy and hope. The Stars and Stripes was our flag and our only flag, and that knowledge was almost too painful to bear.
— Maya Angelou
Since life is our most precious gift
And since it is given to us to live but once, 
Let us so live that we will not regret 
Years of uselessness and inertia.
— Maya Angelou

work

Without the presence and energy of art in our lives, we are capable of engaging in heartless activities without remorse and cruelties with clear consciences.
— Maya Angelou

art

Malcolm X was America's Molotov cocktail, thrown upon the White hope that all Black Americans would follow the nonviolent tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans race

Values among Southern rural Blacks are not quite the same as those existing elsewhere. Age has more worth than wealth, and religiosity more value than beauty.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

Those who would use ridicule as a form of humor, sow nothing but shame and bitterness and when the snide laughter ends, they will reap only anger and hostility.
— Maya Angelou
What I have always wanted is to be of use. I will not be abused. I will not be misused, not willingly. But I will be of use. Anybody who is not of use is useless.
— Maya Angelou
Leers and lascivious smirks to the contrary, sensuality does not necessarily lead to sex, nor is it meant to be a substitute for sex. Sensuality is its own reward.
— Maya Angelou
In the silence we listen to ourselves. Then we ask questions of ourselves. We describe ourselves to ourselves, and in the quietude we may even hear the voice of God.
— Maya Angelou

silence

Life is ruthless.  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 (Playgirl)

nature

He belonged to everyone. That means his impact recognizes no continent, no language, no color, no ocean. It belongs to us all, just as Muhammad Ali belongs to us all.
— Maya Angelou

Muhammad Ali

Spirit is one and is everywhere present. It never leaves me. In my ignorance I may withdraw from it, but I can realize its presence the instant I return to my senses.
— Maya Angelou

spiritual

I knew that words, despite the old saying, never fail. And my reading had given me words to spare. I realized I was not a writer who teaches, but a teacher who writes.
— Maya Angelou
Mostly, what I have learned so far about aging, despite the creakiness of one's bones and the cragginess of one's once-silken skin, is this: do it. By all means, do it.
— Maya Angelou

aging

Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.
— Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

jealousy

It was hard enough to discover that I was a child of God, but to understand that the bigot and the murderer were also children of God was an even more difficult
journey.
— Maya Angelou

brotherhood of man

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 (A Wealth of Wisdom: Legendary African American Elders Speak)

maturity

We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.
— Maya Angelou

introspection

Since a price will be extracted from us for everything we do or leave undone, we should pluck up the courage to win, to win back our finer and kinder and healthier selves.
— Maya Angelou
There were times when it was said that I had more determination than talent. This may be said of many. It may also be said that life loves the person who dares to live it.
— Maya Angelou

determination talent

There is a place in you that you must keep inviolate, a place that you must keep clean. A place where you say to any intruder, "Backup, don't you know I'm a child of God."
— Maya Angelou
Joy is an important element of happiness. It is sometimes the difference between striving and thriving. One must nurture the joy in one's life so that it reaches full bloom.
— Maya Angelou

joy

One must contrive to keep innocence in one's life, how else is one to continue to enjoy the simple things such as sunrises, sunsets, or the acknowledging smile of a passing stranger'?
— Maya Angelou
Try rather to be so much yourself that the clothes you choose increase your naturalness and grace. We must stay vigilant and be very careful of how we allow ourselves to be addressed.
— Maya Angelou
It is a great blessing to have lived in the time of Martin Luther King Jr., when forgiveness and generosity of spirit encouraged our citizenry to work for a better world for everybody.
— Maya Angelou

Martin Luther King

I do not believe the N word should be used at all . . . It is time to retire the N word and rely on our vocabulary to speak to people without calling them any racial pejorative at all.
— Maya Angelou
Since we were descendants of African slaves torn from the land, we reasoned we wouldn't have to earn the right to return, yet we wouldn't be so arrogant as to take anything for granted.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

The heartbreaking tenderness of Black women and their majestic strength speak of the heroic survival of a people who were stolen into subjugation, denied chastity, and refused innocence.
— Maya Angelou

African-American women

In that little town in Arkansas, whenever my grandmother saw me reading poetry she would say, "Sister, Mama loves to see you read the poetry because that will put starch in your backbone."
— Maya Angelou
For a person who grew up in the '30s and '40s in the segregated South, with so many doors closed to me without explanation, libraries and books said, "Here I am, read me." Take time to read.
— Maya Angelou

personal

From the moment you leave this house, don't let anybody raise you. Every time you get into a relationship you will have to make concessions, compromises, and there's nothing wrong with that.
— Maya Angelou
I think we must surrender the despair of unexpected cruelties and extend the wonder of unexpected kindnesses to ourselves and to each other  We deserve each other and each other's generosity.
— Maya Angelou

kindness

Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God.
— Maya Angelou

God parenting

It is important that we learn humility, which says there was someone else before me who paid for me. My responsibility is to prepare myself so that I can pay for someone else who is yet to come.
— 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. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.
— Maya Angelou
We are social animals. When we unite in purpose, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Everything that divides or isolates us prevents and obstruents us from realizing our potential as a species.
— Maya Angelou

unity

I'm grateful to be an American. I am grateful that we can be angry at the terrorist assault on 9/11 and at the same time be intelligent enough not to hold a grudge against every Arab and every Muslim.
— Maya Angelou

America prejudice

Home is the nest where children are raised and the place where they are the most important inhabitants. In homes in which this is not true, the parents are not making the sacrifices which are necessary.
— Maya Angelou

home parenting

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 to understand each other, we may even become friends.
— Maya Angelou

Travel

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 (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

bigotry Travel

My people had used music to soothe slavery's torment or to propitiate God, or to describe the sweetness of love and the distress of lovelessness, but I knew no race could sing and dance its way to freedom.
— Maya Angelou (The Heart of a Woman)

African-Americans freedom slavery

When my mother, Vivian Baxter, was confronted by challenges from fools or people she didn't like, she said, "You better say Joe, 'eause you sho' don't know." And that was a warning that needed to be heeded.
— Maya Angelou
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 their color; equal in importance no matter their texture.
— Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

diversity

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

action

In all the institutions I try to be present and accountable for all I do and leave undone. I know that eventually I shall have to be present and accountable in the presence of God. I do not wish to be found wanting.
— Maya Angelou
The idea of overcoming is always fascinating to me. It's fascinating because few of us realize how much energy we have expended just to be here today. I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for the overcoming.
— Maya Angelou
Unfortunately, fortitude was not like the color of my skin, given to me once and mine forever. It needed to be resurrected each morning and exercised painstakingly. It also had to be fed with at least a few triumphs.
— Maya Angelou
Our young must be taught that racial peculiarities do exist, but that 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

brotherhood of man parenting race

I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and 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

home

If we had the opportunity to talk about it, laboriously and painfully, I might have been forever lost in the romance of romance lost. But with no sounding board except my own ears and honest thoughts, I had to stop weeping.
— Maya Angelou
As we approach Thanksgiving—and as we experience it, and even after—I carefully maintain an attitude of gratitude. And I have changed that old saying around from "give 'till it hurts" and now I tell myself "give 'til it helps."
— Maya Angelou

charity gratitude

I've had people explain to me what one of my poems meant, and I've been surprised that it meant that to them. If a person can use a poem of mine to interpret her life or his life, good. I can't control that. Nor would I want to.
— Maya Angelou

poetry

We owe the truth, not just the facts. The facts can sometimes obscure the truth. I've seen many things. I've learned many things. I've certainly been exposed to many things and I've learned something: I owe it to you to tell you.
— Maya Angelou

truth

I had long known that there were worlds of difference between males and men, as there were between females and women. Genitalia indicated sex, but work, discipline, courage, and love were needed for the creation of men and women.
— Maya Angelou

courage discipline hard work

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.
— Maya Angelou

brotherhood of man

She spends half her time making herself attractive to men, and the other half trying to divine which of the attracted are serious enough to marry her, and which wish to ram her against the nearest wall and jab into her recklessly.
— Maya Angelou

women

Some decide that happiness and glee are the same thing, they are not. When we choose happiness we accept the responsibility to lighten the load of someone else and to be a light on the path of another who may be walking in darkness.
— Maya Angelou

happiness

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.  Each of us has a few minutes a day or a few hours a week which we could donate.
— Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now)

gift

I've encountered many defeats.  Without defeats, how do you really know who the hell you are?  If you never had to stand up to something—to get up, to be knocked down, and to get up again—life can walk over you wearing football cleats.
— Maya Angelou (Modern Maturity)

defeat

Despite the harshness of their lives, I have always found that older Black women are paragons of generosity. The right plea, arranged the right way, the apt implication, persuade the hungriest Black woman into sharing her last biscuit.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans African-American women

The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects—nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs—ball them together and make them bounce, turn them a certain way and make people get into a romantic mood; and another way, into a bellicose mood.
— Maya Angelou (Smithsonian)

writers

It is always about the work. In the latter years of your life, your happiness and your self-esteem will be determined by the mountains you surmounted, the valleys you climbed out of, and the life andior career that you forgive for yourself.
— Maya Angelou

work

If we have someone who loves us—I don't mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side—then it's easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it's self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.
— Maya Angelou

love parenting self-esteem

It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times.
— Maya Angelou

women

Every experience shapes your writing, being stuck in a car on a lonely bridge, or dancing at a prom, being the it girl on the beach, all of those things influence your life, they influence how you write, and the topics you choose to write about.
— Maya Angelou

writing

Remember your own shortcomings, and when you encounter another with flaws, don't be eager to righteously seal yourself away from the offender forever. Take a few breaths and imagine yourself having just committed the action which has set you at odds.
— Maya Angelou

shortcomings

The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labor. The human heart is so robust, so tough, that once encouraged it beats its rhythm with a loud unswerving insistency.
— Maya Angelou

encouragement heart

Once when Oprah Winfrey was upset by a story in a tabloid I encouraged her to understand, "You're not in it. People will try to peck you to death like a duck but you're not in it." That is my advice to all of you when others dare to disgrace your name.
— Maya Angelou
Everything of value takes work, particularly relationships. If a mother and daughter don't understand each other, and further don't have sympathy for each other's lack of understanding then the task is to build a bridge across the chasm of misunderstanding.
— Maya Angelou

relationships

We live in direct relation to the heroes and sheroes we have. The men and women who without knowing our names or recognizing our faces, risked and sometimes gave their lives to support our country and our way of living. We must acknowledge them and say thank you.
— Maya Angelou

heroism

I love my son and I loved him when he was growing up, but I was not in love with him which means that I did not dote and I was willing to make the hard decisions. One should never let the love of one's child prevent or hinder the vital and necessary work of parenting.
— Maya Angelou

parenting

The onus is upon us all to work to improve the human condition. Perform good deeds, for that is truly the way to battle the forces of entropy that are at Work in our world. The composite of all our efforts can have an effect. Good done anyWhere is good done everywhere.
— Maya Angelou
Whenever I begin to question whether God exists, I look up to the sky and surely there, right there, between the sun and moon, stands my grandmother, singing a long meter hymn, a song somewhere between a moan and a lullaby and I know faith is the evidence of things unseen.
— Maya Angelou

faith

Often we feel we must have infuriated nature and it has responded by bringing havoc upon our communities. I think it is unwise to personalize nature. I think when we don't know what to do it's wise to do nothing. Sit down quietly; quiet our hearts and minds and breathe deeply.
— Maya Angelou

nature

The Africans say that "Only a fool points to his history with his left hand." What this means is that you must know and respect where you came from. How can you truly respect yourself if you do not know or understand the struggles and trials your people surmounted for you to be here?
— Maya Angelou
Although there was always generosity in the Negro neighborhood, it was indulged on pain of sacrifice. Whatever was given by Black people to other Blacks was most probably needed as desperately by the donor as by the receiver. A fact which made the giving or receiving a rich exchange.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

Black Americans of my generation did not look kindly on public mourning's except during or immediately after funerals. We were expected by others and by ourselves to lighten the burden by smiling, to deflect possible new assaults by laughter. Hadn't it worked for us for centuries? Hadn't it?
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans

Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other's hands and look into each other's eyes and say, "I am sorry."
— Maya Angelou
When I sense myself filling with rage at the absence of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions, my efforts and answers should be focused on what I did or can learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?
— Maya Angelou

relationships

Whites had been wrong all along. Black and brown skin did not herald debasement and a divinely created inferiority. We were capable of controlling our cities, ourselves, and our lives with elegance and success. Whites were not needed to explain the working of the world, nor the mysteries of the mind.
— Maya Angelou
Bigotry, envy, greed, and ignorance do not have to be taught; these things come naturally, and if unfettered are as destructive as addictive drugs. These forces have the ability to reduce a person to nothing more than an id, and like addictive drugs their allure defies the weak to withstand their attraction.
— Maya Angelou

human nature

I am truly grateful: for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, for being able to taste, for appreciating love—for knowing that it exists in a world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence  And I'm grateful to know it exists in me, and I'm able to share it with so many people.
— Maya Angelou
I, with millions of other Americans, have the same dream Martin Luther King Jr. had; when I wake up I wish some of the things I dreamt would be true. I wish that little Black and White boys and girls would hold hands without being shocked at their nearness to each other and say in a natural way, "We have overcome."
— Maya Angelou

race

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. 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 their color; equal in importance no matter their texture.
— Maya Angelou

diversity

I agreed a long time ago, I would not live at any cost. If I am moved or forced away from what I think is the right thing, I will not do it. Yes, one must be agile and willing, but if one is being asked to contradict, one must remember there may be a difference in manner, but there must not be a difference in meaning.
— Maya Angelou

principles

Some entertainers have tried to make art of their coarseness, but in their public crudeness they have merely revealed their own vast senses of personal inferiority. When they heap mud upon themselves and allow their tongues to wag with vulgarity, they expose their belief that they are not worth loving and in fact are unlovable.
— Maya Angelou
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
— Maya Angelou
Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy, but still relentless, unending work. Becoming an old female may require only being born with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes, and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck, but to become and remain a woman command the existence and employment of genius.
— Maya Angelou

women

I am grateful that love exists: familial love (love between relatives), romantic love (a passion between lovers), agape love (divine love between God and friends), love of nature (the majesty of mountains, the lasting love of oceans), and the joy of laughter. We are stronger, kinder, and more generous because we Live in an atmosphere where love exists.
— Maya Angelou

love

Every family in our country has someone, a daughter, a son, a nephew, a niece, a cousin, who has served or is serving in the armed services. These relatives have risked or are risking their lives in foreign places few of us have ever seen or can even spell. These heroes and sheroes deserve our heartfelt gratitude for holding the flag of freedom high in the foreign air.
— Maya Angelou
Dignity doesn't just mean always being stiff and composed. It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best. Dignity means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it's important for me to say it. Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive. And that I have the responsibiLity to give the best treatment I can to other people.
— Maya Angelou

dignity

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future . . . Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us  A day away acts as a spring tonic. It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.
— Maya Angelou
Boys seem to think that girls hold the keys to all happiness, because the female is supposed to have the right of consent and for dissent. It's interesting that they didn't realize in those yearning days past, nor even in the present days of understanding, that if the female had the right to decide, she suffered from her inability to instigate. That is, she could only say yes or no if she was asked.
— Maya Angelou

men and women

This is no longer my house, it is my home. And because it is my home, I have not only found myself healed of the pain of a broken love affair, but discovered that when something I have written does not turn out as I had hoped, I am not hurt so badly. I find that my physical ailments, which are a part of growing older, do not depress me so deeply. I find that I am quicker to laugh and much quicker to forgive.
— Maya Angelou

home

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time. On this platform of peace, we can create a language to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other. At this Holy instant, we celebrate the Birth of Christ into the great religions of the world. We jubilate the precious advent of trust. We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope. All the earth's tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of Peace.
— Maya Angelou

Christmas

Black women whose ancestors were brought to the United States beginning in 1619 have lived through conditions of cruelties so horrible, so bizarre, the women had to reinvent themselves. They had to find safety and sanctity inside themselves or they would not have been able to tolerate such torture. They had to learn quickly to be self-forgiving, for often their exterior actions were at odds with their interior beliefs.
— Maya Angelou

African-Americans African-American women

The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important. In a time and world where males hold sway and control, the pressure upon women to yield their rights of way is tremendous. And it is under those very circumstances that the woman's toughness must be in evidence.
— Maya Angelou

women

Faith and prayer are important elements of my belief in God. Faith is my rock, but it is also the way I align my thoughts, my heart, and my actions to realize my goals. Prayer is the way I connect with the energy of God, it is also the way I clarify to myself what I am asking for. Thus, when I enter a challenging and uncertain situation I say, "l'm putting my trust in my faith, Dear Lord, and I am stepping out on Your Word."
— Maya Angelou

faith prayer

Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.
— Maya Angelou
Never put your sheroes and heroes up on pedestals; placing them on pedestals is setting yourself up for disappointment. You must take the good that people do and put the bright light on that good, but human beings can never withstand such light without showing their shadows and warts. All mortals have their shortcomings and weaknesses. Their skills and deeds are what we must applaud. Don't fall victim to the cult of personality.
— Maya Angelou

heroism hero worship

You have been paid for. Each of you, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red—whatever pigment you use to describe yourselves—has been paid for. But for the sacrifices made by some of your ancestors, you would not be here; they have paid for you. So, when you enter a challenging situation, bring them on the stage with you; let their distant voices add timbre and strength to your words. For it is your job to pay for those who are yet to come.
— Maya Angelou

ancestors

Inordinate tears are the crystal rags and vicious tatters of a worn-out soul. Back in Stamps my grandmother used to tell me, "Sister, don't spend too much time on tears. The more you cry, the less you pee and peeing is more important." Life has since taught me a less humorous caveat: Excessive whining and tears are taken as signs of weakness by those around you and let the bully and the brute know there is a victim in the neighborhood.
— Maya Angelou

crying

Laughter and smiles are essential factors in a joyous life. The dicty folks who walk around with the backs of their hands glued to their foreheads as an indication of their sober decorum and seriousness are missing the point. A smile is a welcoming expression that allows people to approach you more easily, and laughter chases the darkness away and allows sunlight to enter your heart. Liberate yourself; smile and laugh regularly and often.
— Maya Angelou

laughter smile

Most Black Americans ridicule and revile the Uncle Toms they see on film and television or read about. What they don't realize is that these people stepped and fetched in a nation and time that it was hard for Black people to survive, much less find a decent job. Rarely is consideration given to the sacrifices these people made in order to feed their families, what it cost them in self-respect to make sure the next generation survived. It is these circumstances that make Mr. Paul Dunbar's poem, "We Wear the Mask," so poignant.
— Maya Angelou
The Black mother perceives destruction at every door, ruination at each window, and even she herself is not  beyond her own suspicion. She questions whether she loves her children enough—or more terribly, does she love them too much'? Do her looks cause embarrassment—or even more terrifying, is she so attractive her sons begin to desire her and her daughters begin to hate her? If she is unmarried, the challenges are in- creased. Her singleness indicates she has rejected or has been rejected by her mate. Yet she is raising children who will become mates. Beyond her door, all authority is in the hands of people who do not look or think or act like her and her children.
— Maya Angelou

African-American women

Appearances to the contrary, there is a code of social behavior among Southern Blacks (and almost all of us fall into that category, willingly or not) which is as severe and distinct as a seventeenth-century minuet or an African initiation ritual. There is a moment to speak, a tone of voice to be used, words to be carefully chosen, a time to drop one's eyes, and a split-second when a stranger can be touched on the shoulder or arm or even knee without conveying anything more than respectful friendliness. A lone woman in a new situation knows it is correct to smile slightly at the other women, never grin (a grin is proper only between friends or people making friendship), and nod to unknown men. This behavior tells the company that the new woman is ready to be friendly but is not thirsting after another woman's mate. She should be sensual, caring for her appearance, but taking special care to minimize her sexuality.
— Maya Angelou