Maya Angelou Quotes

Typewriter and meadow flowers.

Who was Maya Angelou?

Maya Angelou was an American author, poet and civil rights activist who rose to prominence with the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in 1969.

Angelou, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

The United States Mint recently began shipping quarters featuring the image of poet Maya Angelou, the first coins in its American Women Quarters Program. She is known as the 1st Black woman to be featured on US quarters.

Why is she prominent in U.S. history and in the writing world?

Maya Angelou is most recognized for her unique autobiographical writing style.

Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Signs received international acclaim and made the bestseller list. The book was also banned in many schools during that time as Angelou’s honesty about having been sexually abused opened a subject matter that had long been taboo in the culture.

With more than 30 bestselling titles, Maya Angelou has written 36 books.

Angelou also worked as a Civil Rights activist with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and served on the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Angelou helped to raise the resources that allowed King and others to organize historic challenges to the Jim Crow brutality she would later examine in her books.

What are some of her best quotes?


A lot of Maya Angelou's famous quotes relate to character, inspiration and humor

“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.”― Maya Angelou

“When someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.”― Maya Angelou

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

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.”― Maya Angelou

“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.”― Maya Angelou

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”― Maya Angelou

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”― Maya Angelou

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”― Maya Angelou

“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.”― Maya Angelou

From one of her bestselling novels:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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