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List I – Maya Angelou – Quotes


  1. I admire people who dare to take the language, English, and understand it and understand the melody.” — Maya Angelou
  2. I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, ‘I write for money.’ Yes, I think everybody should be paid handsomely; I insist on it, and I pay people who work for me, or with me, handsomely.” — Maya Angelou
  3. I always knew from that moment, from the time I found myself at home in that little segregated library in the South, all the way up until I walked up the steps of the New York City library, I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I’ll be OK. It really helped me as a child, and that never left me.” — Maya Angelou
  4. I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.” — Maya Angelou
  5. I am never proud to participate in violence, yet I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves that we can be ready and able to come to our own defence when and wherever needed.” — Maya Angelou
  6. I became the kind of parent my mother was to me.” — Maya Angelou
  7. I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.” — Maya Angelou
  8. I believe that every person is born with talent.” — Maya Angelou
  9. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  10. I could fall in love with a sumo wrestler if he told stories and made me laugh. Obviously, it would be easier if someone was African-American and lived next door and went to the same church. Because then I wouldn’t have to translate.” — Maya Angelou
  11. I created myself. I have taught myself so much.” — Maya Angelou
  12. I did work in a strip club, but I didn’t strip. I danced, and I became very popular.” — Maya Angelou
  13. I do like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them. But I like – if somebody is going to come into my house and I have not put out the welcome mat, I want to stop them.” — Maya Angelou
  14. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around. I’ll probably be writing when the Lord says, ‘Maya, , it’s time.’” —Maya Angelou
  15. I don’t think there’s such a thing as autobiographical fiction. If I say it happened, it happened, even if only in my mind.” — Maya Angelou
  16. I find in my poetry and prose the rhythms and imagery of the best – I mean, when I’m at my best – of the good Southern black preachers. The lyricism of the spirituals and the directness of gospel songs and the mystery of blues are in my music or in my poetry and prose, or I missed everything.” — Maya Angelou
  17. I got my own back.” — Maya Angelou
  18. I have a feeling that I make a very good friend, and I’m a good mother, and a good sister, and a good citizen. I am involved in life itself – all of it. And I have a lot of energy and a lot of nerve.” — Maya Angelou
  19. I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.” — Maya Angelou
  20. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” — Maya Angelou
  21. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  22. I keep a hotel room in my town, although I have a large house. And I go there at about 5:30 in the morning, and I start working. And I don’t allow anybody to come in that room. I work on yellow pads and with ballpoint pens. I keep a Bible, a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a bottle of sherry. I stay there until midday.” — Maya Angelou
  23. I know for sure that loves saves me and that it is here to save us all.” — Maya Angelou
  24. I know some people might think it odd – unworthy even – for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people’s poet so I write for the people.” — Maya Angelou
  25. I know that I’m not the easiest person to live with. The challenge I put on myself is so great that the person I live with feels himself challenged. I bring a lot to bear, and I don’t know how not to.” — Maya Angelou
  26. I know that I’ve been guided by God. I am obedient.” — Maya Angelou
  27. I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, ‘No. No, I’m finished. Bye.’ And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won’t do that.” — Maya Angelou
  28. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  29. I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.” — Maya Angelou
  30. I like chicken a lot because chicken is generous – that is to say, it’s obedient. It will do whatever you tell it to do.” —Maya Angelou
  31. I like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them.” — Maya Angelou
  32. I like to speak on matters which matter to human beings, and almost everything matters to human beings.” —Maya Angelou
  33. I liked to write from the time I was about 12 or 13. I loved to read. And since I only spoke to my brother, I would write down my thoughts. And I think I wrote some of the worst poetry west of the Rockies. But by the time I was in my 20s, I found myself writing little essays and more poetry – writing at writing.” — Maya Angelou
  34. I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” — Maya Angelou
  35. I long for the time when all human history is taught as one history, because it really is.” — Maya Angelou
  36. I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona – no lime. If the phone rings, I won’t answer until I’m done.” — Maya Angelou
  37. I love the melodies in the Old Testament, how preachers highlight them when they read from the Scripture. But I was influenced forever by the New Testament. I love the Beatitudes, informing us that the meek shall inherit the earth.” —Maya Angelou
  38. I love the song ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Lee Ann Womack. I was going to write that song, but someone beat me to it.” — Maya Angelou
  39. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.” — Maya Angelou
  40. I love wisdom. And you can never be great at anything unless you love it. Not be in love with it, but love the thing, admire the thing. And it seems that if you love the thing, and you don’t just want to possess it, it will find you.” —Maya Angelou
  41. I never expected anyone to take care of me, but in my wildest dreams and juvenile yearnings, I wanted the house with the picket fence from June Allyson movies. I knew that was yearning like one yearns to fly.” — Maya Angelou
  42. I never had that feeling that I had to carry the weight of somebody’s ignorance around with me. And that was true for racists who wanted to use the ‘n’ word when talking about me or about my people, or the stupidity of people who really wanted to belittle other folks because they weren’t pretty or they weren’t rich or they weren’t clever.” — Maya Angelou
  43. I promised myself that I would write as well as I can, tell the truth, not to tell everything I know, but to make sure that everything I tell is true, as I understand it. And to use the eloquence which my language affords me.” — Maya Angelou
  44. I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.” — Maya Angelou
  45. I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other human beings.” — Maya Angelou
  46. I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too.” — Maya Angelou
  47. I speak a number of languages, but none are more beautiful to me than English.” — Maya Angelou
  48. I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition.” — Maya Angelou
  49. I thank God I’m myself and for the life I’m given to live and for friends and lovers and beloveds, and I thank God for knowing that all those people have already paid for me.” — Maya Angelou
  50. I think a number of the leaders are, whether you like it or not, in the hip-hop generation. And when they understand enough, they’ll do wonders. I count on them.” — Maya Angelou
  51. I think Clinton, after getting into office and into Washington, was shocked at being bludgeoned. So he spent time trying to be all things to all people – one way guaranteed not to be successful or respected in a lion’s den. You can’t just play around with all those big cats – you’ve got to take somebody on.” — Maya Angelou
  52. I think I have had so much blessing – I’ve had my brother, who was brilliant – I think my family came closest to making a genius when they made my brother – Bailey was just all of that. He loved me.” — Maya Angelou
  53. I think music is one of the hero/sheroes of the African-American existence.” — Maya Angelou
  54. I think that that’s the wisest thing – to prevent illness before we try to cure something.” — Maya Angelou
  55. I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” — Maya Angelou
  56. I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine… before she realizes she’s reading.” —Maya Angelou
  57. I was a dancer for many years. I was a premier dancer with ‘Porgy and Bess,’ the opera. And I taught dance some, in different places.” — Maya Angelou
  58. I was born in St. Louis but lived there just for a few minutes in my life.” — Maya Angelou
  59. I was married a few times, and one of my husbands was jealous of me writing.” — Maya Angelou
  60. I was very blessed to have family and friends, but particularly family, who told me I was not only all right, I was just right, so I believe that my brain is a good one, and it’s lasting me very well.” — Maya Angelou
  61. I wasn’t a pretty girl. I was six feet tall at 15, you know.” — Maya Angelou
  62. I will not sit in a room with black people when the N word is used. I know it was meant to belittle a person, so I will not sit there and have that poison put on me. Now a black person can say, ‘Oh, you know, I can use this word because I’m black.’” — Maya Angelou
  63. 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.” —Maya Angelou
  64. I would be a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool – and I’m not any of those – to say that I don’t write for the reader. I do. But for the reader who hears, who really will work at it, going behind what I seem to say. So I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues.” — Maya Angelou
  65. I would be stupid not to be on my own side. But I’m a human being, too. And I’m on the side of human beings, rather than on the side of crocodiles.” — Maya Angelou
  66. I write some country music. There’s a song called ‘I Hope You Dance.’ Incredible. I was going to write that poem; somebody beat me to it.” — Maya Angelou
  67. I wrote some of the worst poetry west from the Mississippi River, but I wrote. And I finally sometimes got it right.” —Maya Angelou
  68. If I walked into the kitchen without washing my hands as a kid, I’d hear a loud ‘A-hem!’ from my mother or grandmother. Now I count on other people to do the same.” — Maya Angelou
  69. If I’m the people’s poet, then I ought to be in people’s hands – and, I hope, in their heart.” — Maya Angelou
  70. If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” — Maya Angelou
  71. If we accept being talked to any kind of a way, then we are telling ourselves we are not quite worth the best. And if we have the effrontery to talk to anybody with less than courtesy, we tell ourselves and the world we are not very intelligent.” — Maya Angelou
  72. If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind.” — Maya Angelou
  73. If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” — Maya Angelou
  74. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” — Maya Angelou
  75. If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” — Maya Angelou
  76. If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.” — Maya Angelou
  77. If you want what you’re saying heard, then take your time and say it so that the listener will actually hear it. You might save somebody’s life. Your own, first.” — Maya Angelou
  78. If you were the President of the United States or the Queen of England – you couldn’t have a person who would be more protective than my mother was for me. Which meant really that I could dare to do all sorts of things.” — Maya Angelou
  79. If you will have a person enslaved, the first thing you must do is convince yourself that the person is subhuman. The second thing you have to do is convince your allies so you’ll have some help, and the third and probably unkindest cut of all is to convince that person that he or she is subhuman and deserves it.” — Maya Angelou
  80. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  81. If you’re serious, you really understand that it’s important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you’re the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you’re funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity.” —Maya Angelou
  82. I’m a religious woman. And I feel I have responsibility. I have no modesty at all. I’m even afraid of it – it’s a learned affectation and it’s just stuck on me like decals. Now I pray for humility because that comes from inside out.” —Maya Angelou
  83. I’m a serious aficionada of country music – Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry. I’ve even written some songs. They haven’t done anything of mine yet. But it’s only a matter of time.” — Maya Angelou
  84. I’m always disappointed when people don’t live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.” — Maya Angelou
  85. I’m considered wise, and sometimes I see myself as knowing. Most of the time, I see myself as wanting to know. And I see myself as a very interested person. I’ve never been bored in my life.” — Maya Angelou
  86. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  87. I’m grateful to intelligent people. That doesn’t mean educated. That doesn’t mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call ‘mother wit’ means intelligence that you had in your mother’s womb. That’s what you rely on. You know what’s right to do.” — Maya Angelou
  88. I’m happy to be a writer – of prose, poetry, every kind of writing. Every person in the world who isn’t a recluse, hermit or mute uses words. I know of no other art form that we always use.” — Maya Angelou
  89. I’m interested in women’s health because I’m a woman. I’d be a darn fool not to be on my own side.” — Maya Angelou
  90. I’m just like you – I want to be a good human being. I’m doing my best, and I’m working at it. And I’m trying to be a Christian. I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I always think, ‘Already? You’ve already got it?’ I’m working at it. And at my age, I’ll still be working at it at 96.” — Maya Angelou
  91. I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.” — Maya Angelou
  92. I’m not a writer who teaches. I’m a teacher who writes.” — Maya Angelou
  93. I’m very, very serious – I’m serious enough not to take myself too seriously. That means I can be completely wedded to the moment. But when I leave that moment, I want to be completely wedded to the next moment.” —Maya Angelou
  94. I’m working at trying to be a Christian, and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy – it’s serious business.” — Maya Angelou
  95. In a long meter hymn, a singer – they call it ‘lays out a line.’ And then the whole church joins in in repeating that line. And they form a wall of harmony so tight, you can’t wedge a pin between it.” — Maya Angelou
  96. In a magazine, one can get – from cover to cover – 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it.” — Maya Angelou
  97. In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’” — Maya Angelou
  98. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats – maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats – but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be. Human beings are more alike than unalike.” —Maya Angelou
  99. In so many ways, segregation shaped me, and education liberated me.” — Maya Angelou
  100. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  101. Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink you want more.” — Maya Angelou
  102. Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.” — Maya Angelou
  103. It is a no-fail, incontrovertible reality: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. You can’t do anything with that except do it.” — Maya Angelou
  104. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  105. It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” — Maya Angelou
  106. It’s good to remember that in crises, natural crises, human beings forget for awhile their ignorances, their biases, their prejudices. For a little while, neighbors help neighbors and strangers help strangers.” — Maya Angelou
  107. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” — Maya Angelou
  108. It’s so tedious writing cookbooks or writing the recipes because I’ve never been much of a measurer. But to write a book, you have to measure everything.” — Maya Angelou
  109. It’s still scary every time I go back to the past. Each morning, my heart catches. When I get there, I remember how the light was, where the draft was coming from, what odors were in the air. When I write, I get all the weeping out.” —Maya Angelou
  110. It’s very important to know the neighbor next door and the people down the street and the people in another race.” —Maya Angelou
  111. I’ve always written. There’s a journal which I kept from about 9 years old. The man who gave it to me lived across the street from the store and kept it when my grandmother’s papers were destroyed. I’d written some essays. I loved poetry, still do. But I really, really loved it then.” — Maya Angelou
  112. I’ve conducted the Boston Pops! Imagine that! Me! ! I’ve sang and danced at La Scala!” — Maya Angelou
  113. 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
  114. 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.” — Maya Angelou
  115. I’ve never had a dislike for men. I’ve been badly treated by some. But I’ve been loved greatly by some. I married a lot of them.” — Maya Angelou
  116. I’ve read everything Thomas Wolfe ever wrote; my brother and I memorized whole chapters of ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ and ‘Look Homeward, Angel.’” — Maya Angelou
  117. I’ve still not written as well as I want to. I want to write so that the reader in Des Moines, Iowa, in Kowloon, China, in Cape Town, South Africa, can say, ‘You know, that’s the truth. I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t a six-foot black girl, but that’s the truth.’” — Maya Angelou

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