Here are 35 powerful Maya Angelou quotes. These quotes reflect Maya Angelou’s wisdom, resilience, and profound understanding of the human experience. These quotes also highlight Maya Angelou’s message of unity, resilience, self-worth, and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams.
Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical work, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which tells the story of her early life, including her experiences with racism and trauma. Angelou’s writing explores themes of identity, race, womanhood, and resilience.
Angelou had a challenging childhood marked by poverty, familial instability, and racial discrimination. Despite these hardships, she developed a love for literature and writing. In her early adult years, Angelou worked as a singer, dancer, and actress, performing in various stage productions, including the opera “Porgy and Bess.” She also lived in several countries, including Egypt and Ghana, where she worked as a journalist.
Maya Angelou’s literary contributions earned her numerous awards and accolades. In 1993, she recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, becoming the first poet to do so since Robert Frost in 1961. Angelou received over 50 honorary degrees and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Maya Angelou Quotes
1. “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.”
2. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
3. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
4. “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
5. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
6. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
7. “A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
8. “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.”
9. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
10. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
11. “I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.”
12. “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
13. “You are the best you that there is.”
14. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
15. “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
16. “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.”
17. “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
18. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
19. “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
20. “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”
21. “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
22. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
23. “We need much less than we think we need.”
24. “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.”
25. “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”
26. “A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream.”
27. “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.”
28. “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
29. “I’ve learned that people will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
30. “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
31. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
32. “We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”
33. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
34. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
35. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to lonelines.”