Famous Maya Angelou Quotes That Inspire Us Till This Day

It’s the posthumous birthday celebration of the black women’s poet laureate, a woman that made her mark in the literary world and beyond; Dr. Maya Angelou, the author of internationally-acclaimed works like I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Still I Rise, among others. Read more about her in this previous article of ours: Why Is Maya Angelou Depicted On A Quarter Dollar?

Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

Maya Angelou / Image Credit: The MY HERO Project

In this article, we compiled, from A to Z, over 50 of her most famous quotes, both from her works and ted talks, all of which still inspire millions of people till this day. Don’t forget to inspire others by sharing with them too!


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

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

“All great achievements require time. We need much less than we think we need. I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

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

“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”

Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”

“Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”

“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.”

“Every storm runs out of rain.”

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

“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.”

“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.”

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

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

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.”

“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.”

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

“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?”

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

“If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone, or you’re too sick to be angry. 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, yes. 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.”

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present… gratefully.”

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

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

Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

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

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

“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.”

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

“Let nothing dim the light that shines from within.”

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

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

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

“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more intelligent and more educated than college professors.”

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

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

“See, you don’t have to think about doing the right thing. If you’re for the right thing, then you do it without thinking.”

“Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence—neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish—it is an imponderably valuable gift.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

“We are only as blind as we want to be.”

Famous Maya Angelou Quotes

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

“We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans — because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone- because we have the impulse to explain who we are. Not just how tall we are, or thin… but who we are internally… perhaps even spiritually. There’s something, which impels us to show our inner-souls. The more courageous we are, the more we succeed in explaining what we know.”

“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.”

“When you know you are of worth — not asking it but knowing it — you walk into a room with a particular power.”

“When you know you are of worth, you don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to become rude, you don’t have to become vulgar; you just are. And you are like the sky is, as the air is, the same way water is wet. It doesn’t have to protest.”

“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.”

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

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

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

“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.”

Sources: Wisdom Quotes, GoodReads.

Recommended for you: To get more of her quotes, download Maya Angelou’s Little Book Of Selected Quotes.

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