Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer and civil rights activist, best known for her 1969 memoir ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, which tells of her life up to the age of 17.
She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry and is also credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning over 50 years. Angelou received many awards and over 50 honorary degrees for her work, which usually centered on themes such as racism, identity and family.
She was an active member in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. She was northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This organization, which was created in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. and originally known as the Southern Leadership Conference, advocates for the rights of African Americans in the United States.
Angelou also joined the Harlem Writers Guild, which aimed to support and nurture the publication of Black authors. It was around this time that she began writing her autobiography, which has since sold over a million copies. In 1972, she also became the first African American woman to have her screen play turned into a film, with the production of ‘Georgia, Georgia’.
In 2013 she was the recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community. She died in 2014 at the age of 86.
Below, we share some of Maya Angelou’s most inspirational quotes:
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
“To those who are given much, much is expected.”
“Life likes to be taken by the lapel and told, “I’m with you kid. Let’s go!”
“Go,” she whispered. “Go. Show them you spell your name W-O-M-A-N.”
“Take a day to heal from the lies you’ve told yourself and the ones that have been told to you.”
“Let nothing dim the light that shines from within”
“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
“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 am Woman, Phenomenally, Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.”
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
“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.”
“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”