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48 Best Maya Angelou Quotes To Inspire Your Life
maya angelou quotes
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48 Best Maya Angelou Quotes To Inspire Your Life

Maya Angelou was one of America's most beloved and celebrated poets and authors, with dozens of awards and over 50 honorary degrees attesting to her inspirational role at the center of American life. In 1993, she was invited to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet since 1961 to deliver an inaugural recitation. Her lifetime of achievement was rewarded in 2000 when she received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2010 President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country's highest honors.

RELATED: Why Maya Angelou Stopped Speaking - and How She Found a Voice that Changed the World

The famed author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), the first of her seven autobiographies for which she became known, lived a long and storied life. We know her well as a memoirist, essayist and poet, who authored several books of poetry, three books of essays, and a list of plays, movies, and television shows. She was also a journalist who worked in Africa, a historian, songwriter, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer and singer.


And as an activist, she was one of the Civil Rights Movement's most prominent women, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and devoted her life to being a tireless voice for women and black people -- and for an openhearted vision of humanity where all could find their place. On May 28, 2014, the great Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86, leaving a legacy that will surely be cherished for many decades to come.

We've gathered 25 of Maya Angelou's most powerful and insightful quotes, hoping that it injects a hearty dose of beauty and inspiration into your day. Enjoy!

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Courage

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.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.

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

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

I got my own back. 

RELATED: Maya Angelou’s Inspirational Life Celebrated on 94th Birthday – Named First Black Woman on U.S. Quarter

Courage – you develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a 100-pound weight without preparing yourself. 

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

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Success

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You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.

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.

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.

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. 

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Life & Love

Maya Angelou quotes - how amazing you can be

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

If you're always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.

I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it. 

Determine to live life with flair and laughter. 

Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

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Photo via MayaAngelou.com

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.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

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

I am a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman,
that's me.

Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.

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

I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too. 

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Art & Beauty

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Photo via MayaAngelou.com

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

In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

I believe in living a poetic life, an art full life. Everything we do from the way we raise our children to the way we welcome our friends is part of a large canvas we are creating.

When members of a society wish to secure that society's rich heritage they cherish their arts and respect their artists. The esteem with which we regard the multiple cultures offered in our country enhances our possibilities for healthy survival and continued social development.

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

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

The Best Maya Angelou Quotes About Creativity

Maya Angelou quotes - solitary fantasy can change a million realities

If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.

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

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

Creativity or talent, like electricity, is something I don't understand but something I'm able to harness and use. While electricity remains a mystery, I know I can plug into it and light up a cathedral or a synagogue or an operating room and use it to help save a life. Or I can use it to electrocute someone. Like electricity, creativity makes no judgment. I can use it productively or destructively. The important thing is to use it. You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.

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The Maya Angelou Quarter (Image: U.S. Mint)

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.

We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else.

I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone. Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him. He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance. Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that. He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

Maya Angelou Quotes About Knowledge & Wisdom

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Photo via MayaAngelou.com

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

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

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.

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

We are only as blind as we want to be. 

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

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

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