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- A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
- Achievement brings its own anticlimax.
- All great achievements require time.
- All men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.
- Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
- As far as I knew white women were never lonely, except in books. White men adored them, Black men desired them and Black women worked for them.
- Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.
- At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.
- Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.
- Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.
- Does my sassiness surprise you?
- Don't bring negative to my door.
- Education helps one case cease being intimidated by strange situations.
- Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.
- History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
- How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!
- Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure.
- I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting?' with 'It is here in my heart and mind and memories.'
- I believe we are still so innocent. The species are still so innocent that a person who is apt to be murdered believes that the murderer, just before he puts the final wrench on his throat, will have enough compassion to give him one sweet cup of water.
- I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at a commensurate speed.
- I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
- 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.
- I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition— about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive.
- If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.
- If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.
- If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.
- If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
- 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.
- In a successful attempt to thwart a seduction I had ended up with two whores and a whore house. And I was just eighteen.
- In order to be profoundly dishonest, a person must have one of two qualities: either he is unscrupulously ambitious, or he is unswervingly egocentric.
- It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.
- It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.
- 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.
- 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.
- Laugh as much as you can.
- Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, "I am with you kid. Let's go."
- Look for the beauty in things.
- Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it allows me to survive, and better than that, to thrive with passion, compassion, and style.
- Lyrical poetry is out for the time being, and something that is called rap or hip-hop is in. It is still poetry, and we can't live without it. We need language to tell us who we are, how we feel, what we're capable of— to explain the pains and glory of our existence.
- Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
- Most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.
- Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
- 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 life has been one great big joke
A dance that's walked
A song that's spoke,
I laugh so hard I almost choke
When I think about myself.
- 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.
- Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, "I'm going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway."
- Nothing will work unless you do.
- Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaken need for an unshakable God.
- 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 would say of my life, 'born loser, had to be'— but it's not the truth. In the black community, however bad it looks, there's a lot of love and so much humor.
- Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
- Poetry is music written for the human voice.
- Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.
- Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence— neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish— it is an imponderably valuable gift.
- Some critics will write 'Maya Angelou is a natural writer'— which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.
- Still, when it looked like the sun wasn't going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.
- Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
- Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it.
- The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerance. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.
- The honorary duty of a human being is to love.
- The main thing in one's own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.
- The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear.
- The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.
- The sadness of the women's movement is that they don't allow the necessity of love. See, I don't personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed.
- The white American man makes the white American woman maybe not superfluous but just a little kind of decoration. Not really important to turning around the wheels of the state. Well the black American woman has never been able to feel that way. No black American man at any time in our history in the United States has been able to feel that he didn't need that black woman right against him, shoulder to shoulder— in that cotton field, on the auction block, in the ghetto, wherever.
- There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.
- There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
- There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.
- Troubles are a blessing that force you to change, to believe.
- We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.
- We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.
- Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
- 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 did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.
- You rose into my life like a promised sunrise, brightening my days with the light in your eyes.
People will forget what you said
Surely sourcing a quote to book of quotations is not good enough?
I think this may come from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Wherever it does come from, that's where it should be sourced. It doesn't come from a quote book.
I have found it footnoted. The footnote reads, "Angelou, M. (2009, December 7). The Take. Newsweek, 27." I suppose that means that Angelou was quoted as saying this in an article in Newsweek for December 7, 2009, p. 27. I've never seen a footnote formatted like that before, so it's a guess. Anybody got Newsweek from back then handy?
- Quote Investigator looked into this and determined that the attribution to Maya Angelou is incorrect. 188.8.131.52 05:45, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
Give you one thought
If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up. Lift a stranger up--lift her up. I would ask you, mother and father, brother and sister, lovers, mother and daughter, father and son, lift someone. The very idea of lifting someone up will lift you, as well.
Is this a real quote? I haven't been able to locate a real source. 184.108.40.206 16:11, 7 August 2014 (UTC)