Best Maya Angelou Quotations, Her Powerful History, and Inspirational Life
Famous Maya Angelou Quotation: I Rise!
Who is Maya Angelou?
Maya Angelou was born in 1928 in St. Louis Missouri, later moving to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with her grandmother. Born Marguerite, she became Maya when her little brother couldn’t pronounce her name.
Growing up, Angelou experienced racial discrimination, and sexual abuse at age seven, that caused her not to speak for five years. After her uncle killed her stepfather for the abuse, the young Angelou felt that her words had killed her abuser. Despite hardships in her childhood, Maya attributes her values and religious faith to her grandmother’s and family’s influence.
Maya did find her voice again and became well-known nearly overnight with her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This book recounts the poet’s childhood all the way up to the birth of her own child.
Sadly, the world lost this beautiful person on May 28, 2014, when she died at the age of 86.
The Inaugural Poem
Maya Angelou's Achievements
There is really so much to tell about this great woman. She was close friends with both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and, of course, she wrote. She wrote a lot—poetry, stories, essays—and she was asked to speak publicly.
Presidents have asked her to serve in different ways. Former President Bill Clinton asked her to create a poem for his first inauguration in to the White House. “On the Pulse of the Morning” was the result of that request. In 2008, President Barack Obama awarded Ms. Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Read more about this amazing lady at the Academy of Achievement.
What a great lady! As I love quotations, I’ll share with you some of the favorites I have found over the years.
Where was Maya Angelou born?
My Favorite Maya Angelou Quotation
"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 came across this quotation years ago--don't remember where--and typed it up on a sheet to put in the plastic holder outside my office. Working at a life care center in the nursing home facility, I was always looking for inspirational quotations to put outside my door. Over the years, I had many comments from employees and residents who enjoyed seeing what I would put out next.
This particular quote fit what I thought our purpose was in taking care of the elderly, and its message rings true in any situation. This Angelou quotation was and is definitely one of my all time favorites.
Collection of Maya Angelou Poetry
Inspiring Maya Angelou Quotations for Writers
Certain quotes of Angelou I can relate to as a writer, as I feel that sense of something inside just bursting to get out.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” (Oh, yeah, writers have to let it out!)
"Making a decision to write was a lot like deciding to jump into a frozen lake." (I can relate. Kind of painfully shocking at first, but oh so refreshing and brave!)
"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” (Love how it slides on through to the heart. Very cool!)
“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” (Writers don't have the answers; they just have something to say--that they just have to say!)
“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.” (Aw, wonderful for an aspiring writer!)
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” (Just like love!)
"Poetry puts starch in your backbone so you can stand, so you can compose your life.” (The poets out there understand--don't you?)
Simply Beautiful Maya Angelou Quotations
I hope you don't mind my comments after each quote. I can't seem to help myself.
"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud.” (Simple and sweet!)
"Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” (Self-explanatory!)
"Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” (Easier said than done, but so, so true.)
“I want to thank you, Lord, for life and all that's in it.
Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute. ” (Love this rhyme!)
“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.” (from the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” (Curl my back to loneliness? How beautifully poetic is that!)
"In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours
In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.” (So romantic . . . . )
“The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don't know my story...” (Is that true or what? Wonderfully said.)
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take buy by the moments that take your breath away.” (This is another one of my favorites. It breathes beauty.)
Need Motivation? Inspirational Quotations by Maya Angelou
“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.” (I should take this advice more often!)
"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” (Ditto from above comment!)
"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” (Yeah, I'm getting the message!)
"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!” (I love the spirit of this quotation!)
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.” (Yeah, I love the raw courage of this one.)
"Ain't nothin' to it, but to do it.” (Simple and to the point.)
Biography of Maya Angelou
Humorous Maya Angelou Quotations
"I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.” (Seriously . . . . )
“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 don't think I have a problem with this one.)
"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.” (I just have to chuckle at this one.)
“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.” (Again . . . chuckles . . . . )
"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” (Not very well in my case--especially with the Christmas tree lights!)
"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.” (Too cute!)
Final Thoughts: Quotations on Hope
"No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” (Like Scarlett O'Hara would say, Tomorrow is another day . . . right?)
"If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” (A good mantra!)
"I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory." (Ah, how poetic that "trailing wisps of glory.")
And there are many more Maya Angelou quotations out there . . . . You owe it to yourself to check out this lovely, inspirational lady.