“A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream
great dreams. And then try to live your dream.” ~ Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is one of
life’s remarkable people who are simply impossible to define. Acting, civil
rights, poetry, dancing and writing, are just some of the things Angelou is
Beautiful, ballsy, opinionated and nice, Maya Angelou quotes are
commonly used across America to motivate, inspire and to prove you really can
achieve anything if you put your mind to it. “If you don’t like something,
change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” ~ Maya Angelou
~ “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect
anyone else to be good to me?” ~ Maya Angelou
~ “Live as though life was created for you.” ~ Maya Angelou
~ “Most people don't grow up. Most people age.
They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married,
have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” ~ Maya Angelou
Born Marguerite Johnson in April 1928, she quickly acquired the
nickname “Maya” thanks to her older brother’s difficulty in saying “My Sister”.
Angelou was just three-years old and her brother only four when her parents
decided to end their marriage. The children were sent to live with their
paternal grandmother in Arkansas. The reason behind the decision has never
really been clear but it is thought to be down to the fact the grandmother was
Unlike most businesses of the time, the grandmother’s general store had
prospered during the World War and Great Depression. She was therefore seen as a
better prospect for two young children. Maya Angelou quotes the time she spent
with her grandmother as being the only happiness she experienced as a child.
When Angelou was seven years old, both her brother and her were returned to the
care of their mother. At the tender age of eight, Angelou was raped by her
mother’s boyfriend and although he was charged with the offence, he spent just
24 hours behind bars. Maya Angelou quotes what happened next as kicking off some
of the darkest days of her young life. On his release, her mother’s boyfriend
was brutally murdered and while nobody was ever convicted of the crime, it is
strongly suspected Angelou’s uncles were responsible.
Quotes by Maya Angelou
indicate she blamed herself for the man’s death, despite what he had done to her
– “I truly thought I killed that man because I had dared to speak his name. I
thought I would never speak again, in case my voice killed someone else”.
Quotations by Maya Angelou’s family and friends reveal that she stayed silent
for a long time and that it was during this enforced silence that she fell in
love with books and reading.
The fact she only listened and observed the world
around her for so long is believed to be responsible for the extraordinary
memory she would later become known for.
The one saving grace after the
murder was the fact Angelou and her brother were sent back to live with their
beloved grandmother. It was during this second stay that Angelou met Mrs Bertha
Flowers; Maya Angelou quotes this woman as being the first person to introduce
her to literary greats such as Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare and Charles
Angelou moved back in with her mother when she was 14 years old and
went on to study dance and drama at school.
Angelou worked as a streetcar
conductor – the first black female to do so- as she waited to graduate. Mary
Angelou quotes one of the happiest days of her life happening just 21 days after
she graduated, when she gave birth to her first child at the age of 17.
someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” ~
Maya Angelou ~ “Bitterness is like
cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it
Maya Angelou ~ “I don't know if I
continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do
many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every
human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you
will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see
the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'Well, if I'd known
better I'd have done better,' that's all. So you say to people who
you think you may have injured, 'I'm sorry,' and then you say to
yourself, 'I'm sorry.'"
Maya Angelou ~ "The real
difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't
have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should
never teach.” ~
Maya Angelou ~ "You can ask
forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in
one's own self." ~
Maya Angelou ~ “Whining is not
only graceless, but it can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a
victim is in the neighborhood.” ~
Maya Angelou ~ “We spend precious
hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time
adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
Maya Angelou ~ “Self-pity in its
early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens
does it become uncomfortable.” ~
Maya Angelou ~
Career and Achievements
Angelou married her boyfriend, and father of her
son, shortly after the child’s birth much to the disgust of her mother.
about the same time, Angelou set up a dance team called “Al and Rita” with Alvin
Ailey – a choreographer she met when taking modern dance lessons. Despite
performing at several black organizations in San Francisco, the team never
really achieved success. Maya Angelou quotes from her autobiography reveal it
was the lack of success with the team, which saw her move to New York to learn
traditional African dance.
Her and her little family were back in San Francisco
within 12-months of leaving. Quotations by Maya Angelou reveal that the
breakdown of her marriage in 1954 also saw a reversal in her fortunes on the
career front. This time period also saw her nickname “Maya” be formally
introduced to the world as her manager advised her she needed a distinctive name
- so Maya Angelou was born.
Her name, plus the quality of her calypso
performances soon meant she was in high demand and in 1955 Angelou was invited
to tour Europe with an Opera production. Quotes by Maya Angelou in her
autobiography reveal it was during her travels that she decided to learn the
language of every country she visited. Thanks to her impressive memory; when the
tour ended, she was virtually fluent in several languages.
advantage of the popularity of calypso, Angelou released an album “Miss Calypso”
– the song would inspire an off-Broadway production that contained Angelou’s own
Angelou met renowned novelist James O Killen’s in 1959 and,
recognizing her superior writing skills, he advised her to move to New York
where her writing would be appreciated. She did just that and met several
African-American authors when she joined the Harlem Writers Guild.
Angelou quotes 1960 as being the year she met the most influential person she
would ever meet – when she was fortunate to listen to a speech given by Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Feeling inspired and with the help of O’ Killen’s she
organized the now legendary “Cabaret for Freedom” which benefited the Southern
Christian Leadership Council. Her contributions to raising funds and to civil
rights have been officially recognised several times.
Angelou moved to Cairo where she began writing for a small newspaper, while
still performing in small theatre productions in her spare time.
Quotes by Maya
Angelou notes her meeting Malcolm X, who was to become a close friend, in the
late 1960s and subsequent move back to the US to help him build a new civil
rights organization. Angelou was devastated by his assassination and some of
Angelou’s most spiritual quotes come from that time.
Angelou decided to
concentrate on her writing, particularly plays in which she sometimes took part.
In 1968, Angelou was asked to help with a march by Dr. Martin Luther King – she
agreed but had to give back word at the last minute. Maya Angelou quotes this as
a macabre twist of fate, as he was assassinated later that day.
death almost destroyed Angelou but she threw herself into writing – in
particular a ten-part documentary on blues music and the African American
Her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was published in
1969 to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Angelou went on to write movies and
television series, although in recent times she is most commonly known for her
appearances on Oprah Winfrey.
Maya Angelou quotes her reading of a self-penned
poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton as
being one of her proudest moments. As well as a Tony nomination, Angelou has a
Pulitzer Prize nomination for her poetry and she has been recognised twice with
the award for having two of her books on the bestseller list the longest. She
holds the National Medal of Arts, as well as The Presidential Medal of Freedom. “You can only become truly accomplished at something
you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you
love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their
eyes off of you.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “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.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Making a decision to write was a lot like deciding
to jump into a frozen lake.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “What I try to do is write. I may write for two
weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’.... And it
might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m
writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m
serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world's variety
and uniqueness.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “If you are always trying to be normal you will
never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and
powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and
accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make
things better.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “There's a world of difference between truth and
facts. Facts can obscure truth.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them
is an option.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles,
leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of
hope.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ "Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything
dances.” ~ Maya Angelou ~
Maya Angelou is still hugely influential in her
chosen fields and remains extremely well thought of by everyone from the average
person on the street to the United States President.
Maya Angelou recently
revealed her strange writing ritual during her penning of her autobiography,
which involved checking into a hotel room with a bottle of sherry. She would
then write 12-pages of the book on legal paper – alone with her memories. Maya Angelou quotes from a BBC interview revealed she did this because it helped her
“tell the truth, the real agony and pain”.
Maya Angelou provides many
motivational quotes for people who have experienced similar situations. She may
be shy about being referred to as a legend, but that is exactly what she is.
“You may not control all the events that
happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally
die” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Love life.
Engage in it. Give it all you've got. Love it with a passion because
life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”
~ Maya Angelou ~ “Nothing will work unless you do.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Success is loving life and daring to live it.” ~ Maya Angelou ~ “Living
well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to
take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the
world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.
” ~ Maya Angelou ~“I don't
trust anyone who doesn't laugh.” ~ Maya Angelou ~
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