82 Maya Angelou Quotes To Remind Us Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

World-famous Maya Angelou has been quoted far and wide. The pioneering literary giant was not only an author but also a singer, dancer, writer, essayist, poet, editor, playwright, composer, actress, and civil rights activist.

If you are looking for her best quotes and sayings, we have the perfect collection for you. But before we dive right into that, how about a little background information on who Maya Angelou was? Who was this multi-talented icon?

Maya Angelou was born on 4 April 1928 in St Louis, Missouri, as Marguerite Annie Johnson. Her older brother nicknamed her Maya. She was introduced to authors like Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and Edgar Allan Poe early in her life.

When she was 16, Maya became the first black female streetcar conductor, a job she had wanted so bad. She gave birth to her son, Clyde, at the age of seventeen after completing school. Maya got married to Greek electrician Tosh Angelos in 1951 despite the condemnation of interracial relationships and the disapproval of her mother.

Maya began taking dancing seriously, and after her marriage ended in 1954, she went on to dance professionally in nightclubs. She toured Europe and even recorded her first album, Miss Calypso. In 1959, Maya was urged by novelist John Oliver Killens to pursue her writing career.

That inspired her to join the Harlem Writers Guild and be published for the first time. She began her activism in 1960 after meeting Martin Luther King Jr. She also worked with Malcolm X. Maya openly talked about her personal life in the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Even with attempts to ban her books, Maya remained a respected spokesperson, bestselling author, and significant influence until she died in 2014. Here is a collection of the most memorable Maya Angelou quotes and sayings of all time.

Maya Angelou Quotes

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.

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.

🔥 Attention Quotes Enthusiasts!

Unleash the full potential of your love for quotes by signing up for a FREE account and start saving all your favorite quotes today!

Register Now! 1 minute setup. No spam, cancel anytime.
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

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

You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise.

You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll

Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.

Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.

I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.

I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like

The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.

The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may

God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of hope.

God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of

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

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated

Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.

Jealousy in romance is like salt in food. A little can enhance the savor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, under certain circumstances, can be life-threatening.

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.

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.

I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I'm praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I'm grateful that I'm heard.

I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I’m praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I’m grateful that I’m heard.

In the flush of love's light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.

In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.

If you're a human being, you can attempt to do what other human beings have done. We don't understand talent any more than we understand electricity.

If you’re a human being, you can attempt to do what other human beings have done. We don’t understand talent any more than we understand electricity.

Won't it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.

Won’t it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers.

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself, and then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough courage to really stand up for the human race and say, 'I'm a representative.'

You have to develop ways so that you can take up for yourself, and then you take up for someone else. And so sooner or later, you have enough courage to really stand up for the human race and say, ‘I’m a representative.’

What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself - for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good.

What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.

We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men... We are who we are because they were who they were. It's wise to know where you come from, who called your name.

We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name.

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 you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.

It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.

It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.

You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.

You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.

I have great respect for the past. If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going. I have respect for the past, but I'm a person of the moment. I'm here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I'm at, then I go forward to the next place.

I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.

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.

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.

One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life.

Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.

The only thing is, people have to develop 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.

The only thing is, people have to develop 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.

My mother is so full of joy and life. I am her child. And that is better than being the child of anyone else in the world.

My mother is so full of joy and life. I am her child. And that is better than being the child of anyone else in the world.

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.

Each time a dancer moves devoutly or a composer faithfully searches the silence for the veiled melodies, eternity is engaged.

Each time a dancer moves devoutly or a composer faithfully searches the silence for the veiled melodies, eternity is engaged.

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

There are some nights when sleep plays coy, aloof and disdainful. And all the wiles that I employ to win its service to my side are useless as wounded pride, and much more painful.

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.

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.

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.

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.

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.

About the contents of this page

Amra conducted research on the quotes with the assistance of Annabele.

Maggie organized the quotes into topics.

Charity wrote the introduction copy.

Schenley designed exclusive images for the quotes.

Browse Related Quotes Categories:

Social Issues & Activism Quotes

Social Issues & Activism

Change is the only constant in life because everything is always changing. Our wholesome quotes will help you come to terms with different changes in your life.

Life Lessons & Wisdom Quotes

Life Lessons & Wisdom

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. These quotes remind you that you only get one shot in life so do it right.

Inspirational & Uplifting Quotes

Inspirational & Uplifting

Inspirational quotes unlock creativity, increase productivity, and boost happiness. Find all that wholesomeness in our iconic library of inspirational quotes.

Get the Full MRQ Experience

Create a Collection
of Your Favorite Quotes

You need an account to access your Collections

Loading..