Maya Angelou Quotes 1–30 of 44 Quotes

Maya Angelou (4 April, 1928 – 28 May, 2014), born Marguerite Annie Johnson, was an American poet, author, memoirist, actress, director, producer, writer, singer, dancer, and civil rights activist.

Below are 30 of 44 sourced Maya Angelou quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“The needs of a society determine its ethics.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969); often misquoted as "The needs of society determine its ethics", and with less context than the full statement: "The needs of a society determine its ethics, and in the Black American ghettos the hero is that man who is offered only the crumbs from his country's table but by ingenuity and courage is able to take for himself a Lucullan feast." The title of Angelou's book comes from the poem "Sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

“You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: Quoting her mother's statement after her son's birth, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), p. 212.

“I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of opportunity to be otherwise.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Ch. 35

“Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Ch. 17.

“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

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Quote source: The Distinguished Annie Clark Tanner Lecture, 16th-annual Families Alive Conference, Weber State University, May 8, 1997 - Full text online at weber.edu

“Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: Gather Together in My Name (1974), p. 17.

“A bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning's greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications. ... Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), chapter 5.

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

— Maya Angelou

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More on this quote: As quoted in USA Today (5 March 1988)
 • 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.
 • As quoted in Diversity : Leaders Not Labels (2006) by Stedman Graham, p. 224

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“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.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993) p. 12.

“There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: As quoted in The Truth in Words (2005) by Neal Zero

“I am capable of what every other human is capable of. This is one of the great lessons of war and life.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: As quoted in Goal Mapping : How to Turn Your Dreams into Realities (2006) by Brian Mayne, p. 84

“My dear, when people show you who they are, why don't you believe them? Why must you be shown 29 times before you can see who they really are? Why can't you get it the first time?”

— Maya Angelou

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More on this quote: As quoted by Oprah Winfrey.Oprah Winfrey (2011-10-26), When people show you who they are, believe them, language: en-us, no: 13, at: 2016-01-19, series: Oprah's Lifeclass
• Oprah Winfrey's paraphrase:
 • When people show you who they are, believe them.Oprah Winfrey (1997-06-18), Book club finale, language: en-us, at: 2016-01-19, series: The Oprah Winfrey Show

“You did in your twenties what you knew how to do, and when you knew better you did better. And you should not be judged for the person that you were, but for the person that you're trying to be and the woman that you are now.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: As quoted by Oprah Winfrey.Oprah Winfrey (1994-11-02), What would you save in a fire?, language: en-us, at: 2019-06-26, series: The Oprah Winfrey Show

“All information belongs to everybody all the time. It should be available. It should be accessible to the child, to the woman, to the man, to the old person, to the semiliterate, to the presidents of universities, to everyone. It should be open.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: As quoted in Interview: How Libraries Changed Maya Angelou's Life, by Angela Montefinise, October 29, 2010

“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

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Quote source: Shared on her Facebook page, July 4, 2011

“You were a precious pearl How I loved to see you shine, You were the perfect girl. And you were mine. For a time. For a time. Just for a time.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Just for a Time"

“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise.”

— Maya Angelou

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Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise" - Full text online at poets.org

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“Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?”

— Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#21

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#21

Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

“Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.”

— Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#22

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#22

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#22

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#22

Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.”

— Maya Angelou

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For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#23

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#23

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#23

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#23

Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

“I went to sleep last night And I arose with the dawn, I know that there are others Who're still sleeping on, They've gone away, You've let me stay, I want to thank You.”

— Maya Angelou

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#24

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#24

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#24

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#24

Quote source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Thank You, Lord"

“Glory falls around us as we sob a dirge of desolation on the Cross and hatred is the ballast of the rock which lies upon our necks and underfoot.”

— Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#25

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#25

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#25

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#25

Quote source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Glory Falls"

“We grow despite the horror that we feed upon our own tomorrow. We grow.”

— Maya Angelou

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#26

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#26

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#26

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#26

Quote source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Glory Falls"

“Petulant priests, greedy centurions, and one million incensed gestures stand between your love and me.”

— Maya Angelou

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For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#27

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#27

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#27

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#27

Quote source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Savior"

“Visit us again, Savior.Your children, burdened with disbelief, blinded by a patina of wisdom, carom down this vale of fear. We cry for you although we have lost your name.”

— Maya Angelou

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#28

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#28

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#28

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#28

Quote source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Savior"

“I have need of a friend.There is one and only one who will give the air from his failing lungs for my body's mend.And that one is my love.”

— Maya Angelou

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Use the following citations in bold to cite the above quote for reference purposes. To cite multiple quotes, use the cite this page section below.

For general use. A combination of the APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#29

Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#29

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#29

Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html#29

Quote source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Many and More"

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Use APA (American Psychological Association) for education, psychology, and the sciences.

Angelou, Maya (2021, August 5) Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html

Use Chicago style for business, fine arts, and history.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html

MLA Citation: Use MLA (Modern Language Association) style for the humanities, especially language and literature.

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 1–30 of 44 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Maya-Angelou-quotes.html

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