Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an American poet, writer, as well as singer, actress and dancer, having participated in productions like the opera Porgy and Bess. Some of her written works include one of her autobiographies I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her poetry collection and Pulitzer Prize nominee Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie and On the Pulse of Morning, a poem recited at the inauguration of President Clinton. Except for her Pulitzer Prize nomination, Angelou was also nominated for a Tony Award and has been awarded three Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others.


1.”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.”

2.”History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

3.”A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

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

5.”It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

6.”Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

7.”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.”


8.”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.”

9.”We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”

10.”The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

11.”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.”

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

13.”When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

14.”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.”


15.”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.”

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

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

18.”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.”

19.”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.”

20.”Nothing will work unless you do.”

21.”What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”