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30 inspiring Maya Angelou quotations to ponder

Remembering and honoring a popular American poet and humanitarian

30 inspiring quotations from Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou photo by Talbot Troy – Creative Commons Licensing

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Maya Angelou (1928-2014) died in her North Carolina home, according to a May 28 report from her publicist. Presidential Medal of Freedom (2011) winner Maya Angelou, who was 86 years old when she passed, left her mark on the world with her words.

The I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings author has often been quoted and will likely continue to be.

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30 inspiring quotations from Maya Angelou

These challenging Maya Angelou quotes are arranged alphabetically here for easy reference. Some of these statements are uplifting, while others may provoke discussion.

  1. “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.”
  2. “All great achievements require time.”
  3. “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
  4. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”
  5. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
  6. "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
  7. “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
  8. “I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.”
  9. “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
  10. “If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.”
  11. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
  12. “I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’ I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. 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 something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. 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. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
  13. “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.”
  14. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
  15. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
  16. “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
  17. “Nothing will work unless you do.”
  18. “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”
  19. “See, you don’t have to think about doing the right thing if you are for the right thing then you’ll do it without thinking.”
  20. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  21. “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
  22. “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
  23. “There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
  24. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  25. “Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.”
  26. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
  27. “When you know better you do better.”
  28. “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.”
  29. “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.”
  30. “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.'”

Maya Angelou, who held dozens of honorary degrees, will long be remembered as one of the most celebrated and quotable poets of our time.

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