Maya Angelou Quotes 33 Sourced Quotes

Maya Angelou (4 April 1928 – 28 May 2014), born Marguerite Ann Johnson, was an African-American poet, memoirist, actress, director, and civil rights activist.

Here are 33 real Maya Angelou quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “People will forget what you said People will forget what you did But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: As quoted in Worth Repeating: More Than 5,000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (2003) by Bob Kelly, p. 263

2. “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

3. “If we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: A Brave and Startling Truth (1995): Written for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

4. “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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Source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

5. “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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Source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

6. “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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Source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise"

7. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#7

Source: As quoted in Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989) by Jeffrey M. Elliot

8. “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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Source: Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993) p. 12.

9. “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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Source: And Still I Rise (1978) "Still I Rise" - Full text online at poets.org

10. “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: As quoted by Oprah Winfrey - Oprah's Thank You Game

11. “We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: A Brave and Startling Truth (1995): Written for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

12. “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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Source and Related Info: 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

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

14. “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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Source: As quoted in The Truth in Words (2005) by Neal Zero

15. “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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Source: Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), chapter 5.

16. “I know when it’s the best I can do. It may not be the best there is. Another writer may do it much better. But I know when it’s the best I can do. 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

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Source: Paris Review Interview (1990): Issue 116, Interviewed by George Plimpton

17. “It is possible and imperative that we discover A brave and startling truth.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: A Brave and Startling Truth (1995): Written for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

18. “The needs of a society determine its ethics.”

—Maya Angelou

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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.

19. “When we come to it We, this people, on this wayward, floating body Created on this earth, of this earth Have the power to fashion for this earth A climate where every man and every woman Can live freely without sanctimonious piety And without crippling fear When we come to it We must confess that we are the possible We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world That is when, and only when We come to it.”

—Maya Angelou

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Source: A Brave and Startling Truth (1995): Written for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

20. “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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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#20

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#20

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

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

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#21

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#21

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

22. “Love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free. A Brave and Startling Truth.”

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#22

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#22

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#22

Source: A Brave and Startling Truth (1995): Written for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations

23. “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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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#23

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Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#23

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#23

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#23

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

24. “Yes. When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.”

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#24

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#24

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#24

Source: Paris Review Interview (1990): Issue 116, Interviewed by George Plimpton

25. “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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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#25

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#25

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#25

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#25

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

26. “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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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#26

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#26

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#26

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

27. “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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#27

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#27

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

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

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#28

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#28

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

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

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#29

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#29

Source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Savior"

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#30

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#30

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#30

Source: I Shall Not Be Moved (1990) "Savior"

31. “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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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#31

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#31

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#31

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#31

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

32. “Nathaniel Hawthorne says, ‘Easy reading is damn hard writing.’ I try to pull the language into such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy.”

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#32

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#32

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#32

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#32

Source: Paris Review Interview (1990): Issue 116, Interviewed by George Plimpton

33. “Years ago I read a man named Machado de Assis who wrote a book called Dom Casmurro. Machado de Assis is a South American writer — black father, Portuguese mother — writing in 1865, say. I thought the book was very nice. Then I went back and read the book and said, Hmm. I didn’t realize all that was in that book. Then I read it again, and again, and I came to the conclusion that what Machado de Assis had done for me was almost a trick: he had beckoned me onto the beach to watch a sunset. And I had watched the sunset with pleasure. When I turned around to come back in I found that the tide had come in over my head. That’s when I decided to write.”

—Maya Angelou

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#33

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#33

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

Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#33

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html#33

Source: Paris Review Interview (1990): Issue 116, Interviewed by George Plimpton

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Angelou, Maya. “Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html

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

Angelou, Maya (2017, November 15) Maya Angelou Quotes: 33 Sourced 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, 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: 33 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/maya-angelou-quotes.html

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