155 Legendary Maya Angelou Quotes

Our collection of motivational Maya Angelou Quotes will make you love life and conquer challenges you may experience.

Quotes by Maya Angelou inspire us daily and help us see the good in the world.

Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, and sadly passed at the age of 86 on May 28, 2014. She was a celebrated author, civil rights activist, influential poet, actress, singer, and dancer. Although she had many careers, Maya Angelou was best known for her poetry and storytelling.

Maya Angelou Quotes

Even though she grew up with abuse, violence, and racism, she overcame these challenges. She joined the Harlem writers guild in the 1950s, helped and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. with the civil rights movement, and even opened up the Organization of Afro-American when she worked with Malcolm X and lived in Africa.

Revered for her work, she recited the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural address. Later in 2010, she received the countries highest honors when President Barak Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Maya Angelou has written 36 books, seven autobiographies, and 50 honorary degrees, to name a few of her accomplishments.

Maya Angelou’s gift of words is shown in the many inspirational and memorable quotes she has left us.

Here is our collection of Maya Angelou Quotes on life, love, success, and having courage. Please enjoy!

Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.

Maya Angelou
Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud.

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.

I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.

Maya Angelou
I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.

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

Related Quotes:

When you get, give. When you learn, teach.

Maya Angelou

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

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

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

Maya Angelou

We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate – thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.

Maya Angelou

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.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

Maya Angelou
You can't use up creativity. The more yo use, the more you have.

Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!

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

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Maya Angelou

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

Maya Angelou
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.

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

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

Maya Angelou

If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.

Maya Angelou

Inspirational Maya Angelou Quotes

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.

It’s very important to know the neighbor next door and the people down the street and the people in another race.

To develop courage you have to start developing courage as you do any other muscle. You have to start with small things and build it up.

You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.

I’m really saddened by the attempts to separate and polarize. This is a time when we have hungry people, people out of work, and people out of spirit. This is a time where we need to uplift, not to separate.

Look what you’ve already come through! Don’t deny it. You’ve already come through some things, which are very painful. If you’ve been alive until you’re 35, you have gone through some pain. It cost you something. And you’ve come through it. So at least look at that. And have a sense to look at yourself and say, “Well, wait a minute. I’m stronger than I thought I was.

Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you… yet, someone survived… You can do anything you choose to do.

We need to not be in denial about what we’ve done, what we’ve come through. It will help us if we all do that.

If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born – it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, ‘Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.’ That’s one thing I’m learning.

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness.

My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!

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.

Quotes About Life – Maya Angelou

Human beings are more alike than unalike. Whether in Paris, Texas, or Paris, France, we all want to have good jobs where we are needed and respected and paid just a little more than we deserve. We want healthy children, safe streets, to be loved and have the unmitigated gall to accept love.

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

I’m considered wise, and sometimes I see myself as knowing. Most of the time, I see myself as wanting to know. And I see myself as a very interested person. I’ve never been bored in my life.

There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, “I‘m with you kid. Let’s go”.

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.

I believe in living a poetic life, an art full life. Everything we do from the way we raise our children to the way we welcome our friends is part of a large canvas we are creating.

There are those who say that poets should use her and his art to change the world. I’d agree with that, but I think everybody should do that. I think the chef and the baker and the candlestick maker – I think everybody should be hoping to make it a better world.

We can be better, we can be wiser, we can be more kind. Yes we have to change. We have to grow up and stop acting like 10 years old. Yes there is much to do, much to see, much to go into.

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

I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.

I encourage courtesy. To accept nothing less than courtesy, and to give nothing less than courtesy.

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.

If we live long enough, we may even get over war. I imagine a time when somebody will mention the word war and everyone in the room will start to laugh. And what do you mean war?

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

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 Quotes About Being Happy

If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.

I try to see every day as a celebration.

I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment.

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.

She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.

Be present in all things and thankful for all things.

Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.

Joy is a freedom. It helps a person to find his or her own liberation. The person who is joyous takes responsibility for the time he/she takes up and the space that he/she occupies. You share it! Some of you have it … you share it! That is what joy is! When you continue to give it away you will still have so much more of it.

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

Be present in all things and thankful for all things.

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.

When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness… all the good things.

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.

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.

It’s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet.

Every day I awaken I am grateful. My intent is to be totally present in that day. And laugh as much as possible.

Quotes About Women, Maya Angelou

My mother raised me, and then freed me.

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

My mother had said me, “All right, you’ve been raised, so don’t let anybody else raise you. You know the difference between right and wrong. Do right. And remember – you can always come home.” And she continued to liberate me until she died.

My mother is so full of joy and life. I am her child. And that is better than being the child of anyone else in the world.

When teachers or people in authority put me down or in one way or another tried to make me feel less than equal to what they thought I should be – my mother was on my side. It was amazing.

On her mother: On the night she died, I went to the hospital. I told my mom, “Let me tell you about yourself. You deserved a great daughter, and you got one. And you liberated me to be one. So if it’s time for you to go, you may have done everything God brought you here to do.

Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.

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.

The sadness of the women’s movement is that they don’t allow the necessity of love. See, I don’t personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed.

I became the kind of parent my mother was to me.

Courage allows the successful woman to fail – and to learn powerful lessons from the failure – so that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.

I have a feeling that I make a very good friend, and I’m a good mother, and a good sister, and a good citizen. I am involved in life itself – all of it. And I have a lot of energy and a lot of nerve.

Maya Angelou Quotes About Religion

I’m working at trying to be a Christian, and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy – it’s serious business.

I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. So at this wonderful, young age of 65, I don’t know yet what the Lord has for me to do. I try to live up to the energy and to the calling, but I wouldn’t dare say I have even scratched the surface yet.

God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of hope.

The most difficult thing in the world, it seems to me, is to realize that I am a child of God; to keep that in my mind all the time.

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.

I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. So at this wonderful, young age of 65, I don’t know yet what the Lord has for me to do. I try to live up to the energy and to the calling, but I wouldn’t dare say I have even scratched the surface yet.

Maya Angelou Poems

When my bones are stiff and aching, and my feet won’t climb the stair, I will only ask one favor: don’t bring me no rocking chair. When you see me walking, stumbling, don’t study and get it wrong. ‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy and every goodbye ain’t gone. I’m the same person I was back then, a little less hair, a little less chin, a lot less lungs and much less wind. But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise. I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide. Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise. Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.

I am a Woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.

Alone, all alone. Nobody, but nobody. Can make it out here alone.

I couldn’t tell fact from fiction, or if the dream was true. My only sure prediction in this world was you. I’d touch your features inchly. Beard love and dared the cost. The scented spiel reeled me unreal and I found my senses lost.

Maya Angelou Courage Quotes

I have enough of life in me to make somebody jealous enough to want to knock me down. I have so much courage in me that I have the effrontery, the incredible gall to stand up. That’s it. That’s how you get to know who you are.

I think that each of us is so much alike, and yet at the same time we are so different, and I have a feeling that if you encountered difficulty, and I with my age encountered the same difficulty, I would respond one way, and you would respond another. Neither would be right or wrong. It’s just that each of us is courageous, and that’s what I encourage, courage, and the courage to see, and the courage to say to oneself what one has seen. Don’t be in denial.

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 and/or career that you forged for yourself.

Those who have something to say accept the fact that that’s lonely. One already knows that there will be adversaries.

If I’m here, I’ll be trying to be a better human being, a better writer, a better friend and a better beloved.

Courage, I don’t think anybody is born with courage. I think you may be born with a flair to braggadocio, you know. That’s not courage.

The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.

In order to win, we pay with energy and effort and discipline. If we lose, we pay in disappointment, discontent, and lack of fulfillment.

You have to deal with what you encounter. But you must not be reduced. And so a way not to be reduced is don’t whine! Don’t let the incidents which take place in life bring you low.

Friendship Quotes By Maya Angelou

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.

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.

A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.

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 is more alike than we are unalike.

A man or woman who sees other people as whole and prepared and accords them respect and the same rights has arranged his or her own allies.

The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear.

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.

Only equals can become friends.

I think we ought to give ourselves more time. We should be more patient with ourselves and with each other.

I think the more we know the better we are. I mean not just facts. The more we know about each other, the closer we are to learn something about our selves.

Maya Angelou Quotes About Love

You can never be great at anything unless you love it. Not be in love with it, but love the thing, admire the thing. And it seems that if you love the thing, and you don’t just want to possess it, it will find you. But if you’re in love with the thing, it may run like hell away from you.

What I really would like said about me is that I dared to love. By love, I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to 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.

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.

Forgiveness. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter. You feel lighter. You just drop that.

I believe that people want the scent of love, more than anything else. And I don’t mean sentimentality, I don’t mean mush. I mean that idea, that human beings are more alike than we are different.

When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.

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

Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.

When people see the laughing face, even if they’re jealous of it, their burden is lightened. But do it first for yourself. Laugh and dare to try to love somebody, starting with yourself.

It’s very hard for adults to maintain respect and romance so that a love affair can be sustained over years.

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

If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.

If you want to liberate someone, love them. Not be in love with them – that’s dangerous.

It’s hard because people think they have something to lose and the truth is they have everything to gain in trying to love somebody.

I’m convinced that the negative has power. It lives. And if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over. So when the rude or cruel thing is said – the lambasting, the gay bashing, the hate – I say, “Take it all out of my house!” Those negative words climb into the woodwork and into the furniture, and the next thing you know they’ll be on my skin.

By love I don’t mean indulgence. I do not mean sentimentality. And in this instance, I don’t even mean romance. I mean that condition that allowed humans to dream of God. That condition that allowed the “dumb” to write spirituals and Russian songs and Irish lilts. That is love, and it’s so much larger than anything I can conceive.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

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.

Enlightened Maya Angelou Quotes

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

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.

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.

Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.

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

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

You listen with interest. That gives some sense of confidence to the speaker.

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

Funny Maya Angelou Quotes

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.

The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library.

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.

This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.

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.

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.

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.”

Family Quotes By Maya Angelou

I do not believe that the accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings. Gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at. It’s a serious matter. You compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you’re relentless…And it is an investment. Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I’m married to someone who is very jealous and you’re married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.

My pride had been starched by a family who assumed unlimited authority in its own affairs.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

Home is a refuge not only from the world, but a refuge from my worries, my troubles, my concerns.

The sisters and brothers that you meet give you the materials which your character uses to build itself. It is said that some people are born great, others achieve it, some have it thrust upon them. In truth, the ways in which your character is built have to do with all three of those. Those around you, those you choose, and those who choose you.

My pride had been starched by a family who assumed unlimited authority in its own affairs.

I sustain myself with the love of family.

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