Inspiration Inspiring quotes Inspiring stories personal development

Phenomenal Woman Maya Angelou Inspiring Quotes

maya angelou vidya sury

Acclaimed author and poet Maya Angelou died this morning at age 86.

Not many people have inspired as many lives as Maya Angelou has.

Did you know that at 16, Maya Angelou was the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco and also the first woman conductor? By the time she was 40, she had been a cook, a waitress, a madam, a prostitute, a dancer, an actress, a playwright, an editor at an English-language newspaper in Egypt, and a Calypso singer?

It was only when she was 41 that she became an author and wrote her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in which she told the story of her life up to the age of 17.

maya angelou vidya sury

Maya Angelou’s beginnings were far from easy. Born Marguerite Johnson in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, she was raped when she was 7 by her mother’s boyfriend and testified against him in court. Traumatized, she wouldn’t speak in public until she was 12. This was the time the written word kept her company. Although she got her voice back, life didn’t get better. At 17, she became a mother and moved cities, jobs and husbands. Angelou was one of her husbands and Maya was her brother’s nickname for her.

At 40, her friends persuaded her to use her gift with words to write about her life. And she did.

maya angelou vidya sury

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a heart-rending account of black life in the South during the Depression, of Maya’s sexual abuse. Her extraordinary voice transforms the painful suffering recounted in the book into an exemplary example of human endurance. She describes herself in her book as “a too-big Negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil.” And she says, “All my work, my life, everything is about survival. All my work is meant to say, ‘You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.’ In fact, the encountering may be the very experience which creates the vitality and the power to endure.”

Angelou has several award-winning books to her credit. She also wrote children’s books and essays and the lyrics to a musical. Her energy is infectious and she was always busy, relentlessly creative.

Maya Angelou has been honored with more than 50 awards, including the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her collected works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, most notably her groundbreaking memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made history as one of the first nonfiction best-sellers by an African-American woman.

To quote her,

“What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love. By love I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings.”

Here is a slideshow of some of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s her last tweet:

And one of my all-time favorite quotes

“I care, and I dare”

I am listing some more of Maya Angelou’s quotes for you to enjoy! I can never get enough of them!

1. “When you know better, you do better.”

2. “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

3. “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.”

4. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

5. “I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t justhold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.'”

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

7. “Modesty is a learned affectation. It’s no good. Humility is great, because humility says, ‘There was someone before me. I’m following in somebody’s footsteps.'”

8. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

9. “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.”

10. “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.'”

11. “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

12. “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.”

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

14. “Timidity makes a person modest. It makes him or her say, ‘I’m not worthy of being written up in the record of deeds in heaven or on earth.’ Timidity keeps people from their good. They are afraid to say, ‘Yes, I deserve it.'”

15. “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.”

 Which is your favorite Maya Angelou quote? ♥

 

You Might Also Like

34 Comments

  • Reply
    Zeenat (Positive Provocations)
    May 28, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I love love love Maya Angelou’s work! Her work has inspired me SO much its hard for me to pinpoint just one favorite among it all…..but here is one of my favs : “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
    Zeenat (Positive Provocations) recently posted…What are you going to be remembered for? What is your life’s message?My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 28, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      Welcome again, Zeenat. I know, right? Maya Angelou’s life is an inspiration. 🙂 Thank you. That is one of my own favorites too! Have a great trip!

  • Reply
    Cathy Graham
    May 29, 2014 at 1:34 am

    I’ve always been so inspired by Maya Angelou and how she overcame so much adversity in her life and still stayed positive and gave so much to the world. Lovely post, Vidya. I learned a lot about her I didn’t know. Love all her quotes and how inspiring they are. If I’m ever feeling down or pity for myself, I only have to read one of her quotes to get things in perspective. The world is a lesser place without her but at least her legacy lives on.
    Cathy Graham recently posted…Success according to Mayou AngelouMy Profile

  • Reply
    Betsy/Zen Mama
    May 29, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Thank you for posting this right away Vidya!
    I am a great admirer of Maya Anglou! I love to read her book and her poetry, especially if she’s the one reading it.
    Thank your for the inspiring post!
    xoxo
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…18 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes To Help You Find Peace Every DayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Laurel Regan
    May 29, 2014 at 3:00 am

    This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful spirit. Thank you.
    Laurel Regan recently posted…Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014My Profile

  • Reply
    Kathy Combs
    May 29, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I loved the tribute you wrote for her. She truly was exceptional. My favorite quote of hers is the one where she says if people show you who they are, believe them! The world has lost a great lady! ♥
    Kathy Combs recently posted…The DeviceMy Profile

  • Reply
    Shailaja V
    May 29, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Maya Angelou is an inspiring person, Vidya. And you have done such an beautiful tribute to her. My favourite quote is #4 on your list, the one that talks about forgiveness. Lovely!
    Shailaja V recently posted…100th post-2014: Changes and New Features!My Profile

  • Reply
    Vinodini Iyer
    May 29, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Maya surely has left us a wealth of pearls to be pondered on. Great to see this sweet tribute to her by compiling her quotes.
    My favorite is no.3 listed here. How one made you feel is what stays with you for a long time.Really.
    Vinodini Iyer recently posted…The Last MealMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rajlakshmi
    May 29, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Wow these are inspring words … She was a strong woman. Her words and quotes speak so much of her strength and struggles. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Reply
    sheethal
    May 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Someofthe above quotes are my all time favourite… esp “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”, “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.” and lots more…. even before I knew these were Maya Angelou’s words. She was truly a phenomenal woman.
    sheethal recently posted…Ramblings …My Profile

  • Reply
    Beloo Mehra
    May 29, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Vidya for such a lovely tribute to one of the most inspiring authors and human beings. Loved her words, her book “I know why the caged bird sings” was one of the most touching books I have ever read. She truly was and will always remain inspirational for millions of Americans and everyone worldwide.
    Great collection of quotes there.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Designing MomMy Profile

  • Reply
    Ananya Kiran
    May 29, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Honestly I didnt know much about Maya Angelou’s work, but thanks for writing this post, I am glad now I know her a little better !
    Ananya Kiran recently posted…Mrs INDIA WASHINGTON – The End ??My Profile

  • Reply
    Corinne Rodrigues
    May 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Vidya, listening to her voice reading out her poems has had such an impact on me! Thank you for this most fitting tribute to a truly phenomenal woman!
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…A Struggle Against Silence: My Writing Process Blog HopMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lori Gosselin
    May 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Vidya!
    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful lady! You should be writing reviews for a living – you do such a thorough, amazing job! (Still thinking of and appreciating the review you did of my book!)
    Isn’t it wonderful how one person can touch so many!
    Lori
    Lori Gosselin recently posted…Zen Time Revelations About Grief and HappinessMy Profile

  • Reply
    Michelle Liew
    May 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Maya Sngelo sang Calyso? She truly is a woman after my own heart!
    Michelle Liew recently posted…Conquering the BlockMy Profile

  • Reply
    KP
    May 29, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    It is a sad news.Yes,she was great person and inspired many.I read a lot about her and many of her quotes yesterday.I sent today my good morning mail with this quote of hers.
    “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.”
    Thanks for the well written tribute she so richly deserved
    KP recently posted…Magnanimity is above circumstancesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hughes
    May 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Maya Angelou was such an inspiring woman. Thank you for your wonderful list of quotes Vidya. xo
    Carolyn Hughes recently posted…If you’re afraid to do it, do it afraid.My Profile

  • Reply
    Shalini
    May 29, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Beautiful collection of quotes, Vidya… Truly inspiring! Loss of a remarkable woman who inspired many with her words….

  • Reply
    Birgit
    May 29, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    When I heard last week she was ill I thought this was not a good sign. A great light has gone from this plane of existence and gone to another. I love the #8 quote-…change your attitude. It is so true. She is inspiring, courageous, defiant and one with herself. She will be missed
    Birgit recently posted…For Niece #2My Profile

  • Reply
    Susan Scott
    May 30, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Thank you Vidya. yes the world is a little poorer for her passing but her wisdom will always live on.
    No. 8 is what I would choose but they are all so powerful.
    Susan Scott recently posted…Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating the MindMy Profile

  • Reply
    Carol Graham
    May 30, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Number 3 remains my favorite quote. I did not know her history of her younger years. Thank you for a great post with lots of details and quotes,
    Carol Graham recently posted…Wouldn’t You Love To Be A Fly On The Wall?My Profile

  • Reply
    sheela
    May 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

    The warmth of her speech and the purity of her thoughts have always inspired me a lot because people like her are the huge source of energy….She’ll always live in the hearts of her admirers…
    sheela recently posted…Keeping the illusion aliveMy Profile

  • Reply
    Andrea
    May 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Such a beautiful tribute to Maya Angelou. She was truly an inspiring being.

  • Reply
    Damyanti
    May 31, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I never forgot how she made me feel, and I was sadder at her death than I was for any writer I’ve mourned. Thanks for this, Vidya.
    Damyanti recently posted…What Relationship Advice would you give your 16-year old self?My Profile

  • Reply
    Pratikshya
    May 31, 2014 at 8:27 am

    “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.”

    How true…

  • Reply
    Zephyr
    May 31, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I have read her six-part autobiography and have been left dazed by the life she lived — a fighter to the core, and yet as feminine as they come. For me, her life was an inspiring quote.
    Zephyr recently posted…Who is afraid of fear?My Profile

  • Reply
    vishalbheeroo
    May 31, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    A beautiful tribute to Maya. Honestly, I didn’t know much about her life and struggle but been reading a lot of late and ur post is only adding to my knowledge. Such a great lady who never ceased to grow.
    This my favorite
    5. “I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t justhold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’”
    vishalbheeroo recently posted…The blind date and lethal loveMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels
    June 1, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Hey Vidya,

    Vidya, Vidya, sorry for the repetition but I am super excited to be reading your blog posts again. I am back after a year away and started a new blog : D. One year older, and hopefully one year wiser or else all that money sent to therapy was a waste : /.

    Anyways,
    I loved this post. I didn’t know much about her background. She lived fully and has touched many people’s lives and still is making a difference.

    I think my favorite quote/two quotes are
    2. “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
    3. “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.”

    I can relate to both of them. Actions speak louder than words and whereever you go you leave an emotional footprint on someone whether it is miniscule or gigantic.

    Hope all is well with you Vidya. I look forward to reading your blog again.

    -Sebastian
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…6 Tips for Effective Online DatingMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      June 1, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Hey Sebastian!
      You know, just two days back, I was going through some old comments to find something and came across yours – and clicked through to your blog link to see and found your website up. I wondered what you were up to and thought I’d email you. 🙂

      So what a nice surprise to hear you are back! Maya Angelou is such an inspiration I find it hard to choose favorites from her words. It is good to see you again! Thank you! Looking forward to seeing you around.

      Love, Vidya
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Making Time to Smell the FlowersMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sreeja Praveen
    June 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Ah… this one post is a great tribute to the lovely lady, to the wonderful human being that Maya was, Vidya. Honestly, I wasn’t much aware of her work, but I’d heard some of her quotes and loved them :)Her words leave us enriched, and her life leaves us inspired….I guess she’ll never really die !
    Sreeja Praveen recently posted…The Realization……My Profile

  • Reply
    Michelle Wallace
    June 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    What a vibrant and beautiful spirited individual!
    My favourite quote is: “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.” SO TRUE.
    Michelle Wallace recently posted…A Postal Predicament + Our Beautiful ChildMy Profile

  • Reply
    simple girl
    June 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    A very heartwarming tribute.. And I cannot choose one from all the quote.. They are such profound bits of wisdom
    simple girl recently posted…A to Z reflections post….My Profile

  • Reply
    usha menon
    June 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Thank you Vidya for throwing so much light on the life of a great lady who faced all obstacles with determination and dignity . Maya’s whole life is a lesson to humanity. Life does not stand still after facing so many adversities. Life goes on. We must learn from her life to never give up.

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    %d bloggers like this: