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30 Powerful Maya Angelou Quotes

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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson, was an American author and poet from April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014. Maya Angelou is a poet and award-winning poet known for the acclaimed poetry collection I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

Maya Angelou’s quotes and poetry has been very inspiring and has motivated to write whenever I feel like expressing myself. It ususally feels like she speaks to me directly.


I have put together some of my favourite and powerful quotes from the late Maya Angelou.

  1. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.”
  2. “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.”
  3. “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”
  4. “The honorary duty of a human being is to love.”
  5. “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
  6. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  7. “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.”
  8. “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
  9. “I speak to the Black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition — about what we can endure, dream, fail at and survive.”
  10. “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
  11. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
  12. “We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”
  13. “Nothing will work unless you do.”
  14. “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.”
  15. “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.”
  16. “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.”
  17. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  18. “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
  19. “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
  20. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
  21. “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.”
  22. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
  23. “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.”
  24. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
  25. “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 you.”
  26. “Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.”
  27. “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
  28. “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.”
  29. “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.”
  30. “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. 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.”


Rest In Peace Maya Angelou

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