Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
  • Born: April 4, 1928
  • Died: May 28, 2014
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Poet

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Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

Quotes About
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Quotes
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Each of you, descendant of some passed on traveler, has been paid for. Immigration & Emigration
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. History
I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human being become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of respectability at a commensurate speed. Poverty
No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place. History
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible. Future ;Discrimination & Prejudice
Somebody is going to be making the laws for this entire country. It could be you. Will it be you? Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Leaders & Leadership
You can tell so many facts that you never get to the truth Miscellaneous
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 History
Your armed struggles for profit Have left collars of waste upon My shore,, Currents of debris upon my breast. Environment & Environmentalism
A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim.
All great achievements require time. Time
All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.
All information belongs to everybody all the time. It should be available. It should be accessible to the child, to the woman, to the man, to the old person, to the semiliterate, to the presidents of universities, to everyone. It should be open. Time
And if a person is religious, I think it's good, it helps you a bit. But if you're not, at least you can have the sense that there is a condition inside you which looks at the stars with amazement and awe.
At 50, I began to know who I was. It was like waking up to myself.
At one time, you could sit on the Rue de la Paix in Paris or at the Habima Theater in Tel Aviv or in Medina and you could see a person come in, black, white, it didn't matter. You said, 'That's an American' because there's a readiness to smile and to talk to people. Time
Autobiography is awfully seductive; it's wonderful. Once I got into it, I realized I was following a tradition established by Frederick Douglass - the slave narrative - speaking in the first-person singular, talking about the first-person plural, always saying 'I,' meaning 'we.'
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.
Black people comprehend the South. We understand its weight. It has rested on our backs... I knew that my heart would break if ever I put my foot down on that soil, moist, still, with old hurts. I had to face the fear/loathing at its source or it would consume me whole.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it's right, it's easy. It's the other way round, too. If it's slovenly written, then it's hard to read. It doesn't give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life. Life ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Every December, I host a tree-trimming party. I serve chili with cornbread and lots of good wine. It's a wonderful party, and it shows how much adults like to play.
Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.
Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: 'I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.' History
How wonderful it is to be an American. We have known the best of times and the worst of times.
I created myself. I have taught myself so much.
I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I'll probably be writing when the Lord says, 'Maya, Maya Angelou, it's time.' Time
I find in my poetry and prose the rhythms and imagery of the best - I mean, when I'm at my best - of the good Southern black preachers. The lyricism of the spirituals and the directness of gospel songs and the mystery of blues are in my music or in my poetry and prose, or I missed everything. Music, Chants & Rapps
I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.
I keep a hotel room in my town, although I have a large house. And I go there at about 5:30 in the morning, and I start working. And I don't allow anybody to come in that room. I work on yellow pads and with ballpoint pens. I keep a Bible, a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a bottle of sherry. I stay there until midday. Morning ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I know some people might think it odd - unworthy even - for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people's poet so I write for the people. Literature, Writers & Writing
I know that I'm not the easiest person to live with. The challenge I put on myself is so great that the person I live with feels himself challenged. I bring a lot to bear, and I don't know how not to.
I know that I've been guided by God. I am obedient. Religion & God
I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I'm praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I'm grateful that I'm heard.
I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me. Time
I liked to write from the time I was about 12 or 13. I loved to read. And since I only spoke to my brother, I would write down my thoughts. And I think I wrote some of the worst poetry west of the Rockies. But by the time I was in my 20s, I found myself writing little essays and more poetry - writing at writing. Time ;Literature, Writers & Writing
I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona - no lime. If the phone rings, I won't answer until I'm done. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I love the melodies in the Old Testament, how preachers highlight them when they read from the Scripture. But I was influenced forever by the New Testament. I love the Beatitudes, informing us that the meek shall inherit the earth. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I never expected anyone to take care of me, but in my wildest dreams and juvenile yearnings, I wanted the house with the picket fence from June Allyson movies. I knew that was yearning like one yearns to fly. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I never had that feeling that I had to carry the weight of somebody's ignorance around with me. And that was true for racists who wanted to use the 'n' word when talking about me or about my people, or the stupidity of people who really wanted to belittle other folks because they weren't pretty or they weren't rich or they weren't clever.
I read the Bible to myself; I'll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.
I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other human beings.
I thank God I'm myself and for the life I'm given to live and for friends and lovers and beloveds, and I thank God for knowing that all those people have already paid for me. Life ;Religion & God
I think a number of the leaders are, whether you like it or not, in the hip-hop generation. And when they understand enough, they'll do wonders. I count on them.
I think Clinton, after getting into office and into Washington, was shocked at being bludgeoned. So he spent time trying to be all things to all people - one way guaranteed not to be successful or respected in a lion's den. You can't just play around with all those big cats - you've got to take somebody on. Time
I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.
I was born in St. Louis but lived there just for a few minutes in my life. Life
I was very blessed to have family and friends, but particularly family, who told me I was not only all right, I was just right, so I believe that my brain is a good one, and it's lasting me very well. Families, Children & Parenting
I would be a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool - and I'm not any of those - to say that I don't write for the reader. I do. But for the reader who hears, who really will work at it, going behind what I seem to say. So I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I write some country music. There's a song called 'I Hope You Dance.' Incredible. I was going to write that poem; somebody beat me to it. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Hope
If I walked into the kitchen without washing my hands as a kid, I'd hear a loud 'A-hem!' from my mother or grandmother. Now I count on other people to do the same.
If we accept being talked to any kind of a way, then we are telling ourselves we are not quite worth the best. And if we have the effrontery to talk to anybody with less than courtesy, we tell ourselves and the world we are not very intelligent.
If we don't plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don't have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don't have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind.
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Respect ;Death
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. Success
If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.
If you were the President of the United States or the Queen of England - you couldn't have a person who would be more protective than my mother was for me. Which meant really that I could dare to do all sorts of things.
If you're serious, you really understand that it's important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you're the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you're funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity. Humor
I'm a religious woman. And I feel I have responsibility. I have no modesty at all. I'm even afraid of it - it's a learned affectation and it's just stuck on me like decals. Now I pray for humility because that comes from inside out.
I'm always disappointed when people don't live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.
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. Life ;Time
I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.
I'm grateful to intelligent people. That doesn't mean educated. That doesn't mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call 'mother wit' means intelligence that you had in your mother's womb. That's what you rely on. You know what's right to do. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
I'm happy to be a writer - of prose, poetry, every kind of writing. Every person in the world who isn't a recluse, hermit or mute uses words. I know of no other art form that we always use. Literature, Writers & Writing ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I'm very, very serious - I'm serious enough not to take myself too seriously. That means I can be completely wedded to the moment. But when I leave that moment, I want to be completely wedded to the next moment.
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. Business, Commerce & Finance
In a long meter hymn, a singer - they call it 'lays out a line.' And then the whole church joins in in repeating that line. And they form a wall of harmony so tight, you can't wedge a pin between it.
In the flush of love's light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink you want more. Independence
It is a no-fail, incontrovertible reality: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. You can't do anything with that except do it.
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. Time
It's good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.
It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
It's so tedious writing cookbooks or writing the recipes because I've never been much of a measurer. But to write a book, you have to measure everything.
I've always written. There's a journal which I kept from about 9 years old. The man who gave it to me lived across the street from the store and kept it when my grandmother's papers were destroyed. I'd written some essays. I loved poetry, still do. But I really, really loved it then. Literature, Writers & Writing
I've conducted the Boston Pops! Imagine that! Me! Maya Angelou! I've sang and danced at La Scala!
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. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I've read everything Thomas Wolfe ever wrote; my brother and I memorized whole chapters of 'You Can't Go Home Again' and 'Look Homeward, Angel.'
I've still not written as well as I want to. I want to write so that the reader in Des Moines, Iowa, in Kowloon, China, in Cape Town, South Africa, can say, 'You know, that's the truth. I wasn't there, and I wasn't a six-foot black girl, but that's the truth.' Truth
Living in a state of terror was new to many white people in America, but black people have been living in a state of terror in this country for more than 400 years.
Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time. Time ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Hope ;Romantic
Most people don't grow up. It's too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That's the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don't grow up. Truth
Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. Music, Chants & Rapps
My grandmother took me to church on Sunday all day long, every Sunday into the night. Then Monday evening was the missionary meeting. Tuesday evening was usher board meeting. Wednesday evening was prayer meeting. Thursday evening was visit the sick. Friday evening was choir practice. I mean, and at all those gatherings, we sang.
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. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Hope ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
My life has been long, and believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things, sometimes trembling, but daring still. Life
My life has been one great big joke, a dance that's walked a song that's spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself. Life
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. Life ;Inspiration ;Humor
My mom was a terrible parent of young children. And thank God - I thank God every time I think of it - I was sent to my paternal grandmother. Ah, but my mother was a great parent of a young adult. Time ;Religion & God
Nothing will work unless you do. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Of course, there are those critics - New York critics as a rule - who say, 'Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it's good but then she's a natural writer.' Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
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. Travel
Politicians must set their aims for the high ground and according to our various leanings, Democratic, Republican, Independent, we will follow. Politicians must be told if they continue to sink into the mud of obscenity, they will proceed alone.
Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.
Shakespeare - I was very influenced - still am - by Shakespeare. I couldn't believe that a white man in the 16th century could so know my heart.
That's the biggest gift I can give anybody: 'Wake up, be aware of who you are, what you're doing and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming ill.'
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I'll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.
The loss of young first love is so painful that it borders on the ludicrous. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Relationships
The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society. Society ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Families, Children & Parenting
The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.
The only thing is, people have to develop courage. It is most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you can't practice any other virtues consistently.
The terrorist action of 9/11 gave birth to President Obama's entry to the White House. Not directly, but indirectly.
The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think. Religion & God
There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it. Life
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth. Truth
Though I do manage to mumble around in about seven or eight languages, English remains the most beautiful of languages. It will do anything.
Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Inspiration
Until blacks and whites see each other as brother and sister, we will not have parity. It's very clear.
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.
We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men... We are who we are because they were who they were. It's wise to know where you come from, who called your name. Women
We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. Motivation
What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself - for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good. 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. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
When I write, I tend to twist my hair. Something for my small mind to do, I guess.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Time ;Relationships
When the human race neglects its weaker members, when the family neglects its weakest one - it's the first blow in a suicidal movement. I see the neglect in cities around the country, in poor white children in West Virginia and Virginia and Kentucky - in the big cities, too, for that matter. Families, Children & Parenting
When younger writers and poets, musicians and painters are weakened by a stemming of funds, they come to me saddened, not as full of dreams and excitement and ideas. I am then weakened and diminished, and made less rich.
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. Religion & God
While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man's humanity to man. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Won't it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history. History
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise. History