Maya Angelou was a renowned poet, author, and activist who dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights and equality. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, Angelou experienced firsthand the racial segregation and discrimination that was prevalent in the United States during this time. 

Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, Angelou persevered and used her voice and platform to speak out against injustice and advocate for marginalized communities.

Throughout her career, Angelou worked with various civil rights organizations and was actively involved in the civil rights movement. She served as the Northern Coordinator in New York for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 

In addition to her activism, Angelou was also a highly respected author and poet. She wrote numerous books, including her famous work “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which details her experiences growing up in the segregated South and the struggles she faced as a young black woman.

Angelou’s activism and writing earned her numerous accolades and recognition. She received over 30 honorary degrees and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2010. 

In addition to her many accomplishments, Angelou was also a teacher and mentor to countless individuals, inspiring them to use their own voices and platforms to effect change in the world.

Maya Angelou’s legacy lives on today through her powerful writing and tireless activism. She will always be remembered as a pioneer in the fight for civil rights and equality, and her work continues to inspire and empower activists around the world.

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes

Famous 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

“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

“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

“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

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
— Maya Angelou

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

“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, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

“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!”

— Maya Angelou

“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!” — Maya Angelou

“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
— Maya Angelou

“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” — 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

“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

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.”
— Maya Angelou

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.” — Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

— Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” — Maya Angelou

“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.”
— Maya Angelou

“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.” — Maya Angelou

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

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

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

”Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” — 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 what their color.”
— 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 what their color.” — Maya Angelou‍

About Making a Difference

“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 some things back.”
— 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 some things back.” — Maya Angelou

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

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
— 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

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
— Maya Angelou

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” — Maya Angelou

→ Read more quotes about making a difference

About Life

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”
— Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.” — Maya Angelou

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
— Maya Angelou

“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” — Maya Angelou

“I am convinced that most people do not grow up… We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

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

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

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
— 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’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.”
— Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

“Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.”
— Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”
— Maya Angelou

“Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 

“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.”
— Maya Angelou

“Live as though life was created for you.”
— Maya Angelou

“Live as though life was created for you.” — Maya Angelou‍

→ Read more positive quotes about life

About Love

“First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”
— Maya Angelou

“First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.” — Maya Angelou

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

“When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
— Maya Angelou

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

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

“To those who have given up on love: I say, “Trust life a little bit.” — 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

“Had I known that the heart breaks slowly, dismantling itself into unrecognizable plots of misery... had I known yet I would have loved you, your brash and insolent beauty, your heavy comedic face and knowledge of sweet delights, but from a distance I would have left you whole and wholly for the delectation of those who wanted more and cared less.”
— Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems

“No one can take the place of a friend, no one.”
— Maya Angelou

“No one can take the place of a friend, no one.” — Maya Angelou

About Change

“Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

“Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.” — Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter‍

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“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

“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

→ Read more quotes about activism and quotes about justice

About Education

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”
— Maya Angelou

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” — 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

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”
— Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”
— Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.” — Maya Angelou

About Success

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

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”
— Maya Angelou

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“All great achievements require time.”
— Maya Angelou

“Nothing will work unless you do.”
— Maya Angelou

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

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

“Success is loving life and daring to live it.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.”
— Maya Angelou

“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
— Maya Angelou

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”
— Maya Angelou

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” — Maya Angelou‍

About Strength

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
— 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

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
— 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, Letter to My Daughter

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

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

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
— 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

“I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.”
— Maya Angelou

“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the 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, Letter to My Daughter

“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the 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, Letter to My Daughter

About Women

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

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

“Strong women — precious jewels all — their humanness is evident in their accessibility. We are able to enter into the spirit of these women and rejoice in their warmth and courage.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“A woman who is convinced that she deserves to accept only the best challenges herself to give the best. Then she is living phenomenally.”
— Maya Angelou

“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

— Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women

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

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

“Don’t let the man bring you down.”
— Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman

“I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“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

“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

“I am a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

— Maya Angelou

“I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” — Maya Angelou‍

→ Read more quotes about women with Women’s History Month quotes

Short Quotes

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.”
— Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” — Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
— Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

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

“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” — Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

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

“The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don’t know my story...”
— Maya Angelou

“If you’re for the right thing, you do it without thinking.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“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

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

More Quotes, Poems, Captions, and Sayings

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

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

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
— 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, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“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

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.”
— Maya Angelou

“There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”
— 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

“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

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“Whining is not only graceless, but can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood.”
— Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”
— Maya Angelou

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

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”
— Maya Angelou

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” — Maya Angelou