Maya Angelou’s 20 Greatest Quotes

Today is a very sad day. Award-winning author, admired poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou has died. She was 86.

Maya Angelou is a protean woman, fluent in seven languages and the recipient of 13 honorary degrees. She was nominated for a National Book Award for her nonfiction and a Tony award for her acting. She is also an accomplished singer and dancer.

There are so many inspiring things she said, so here’s just 20 of the greatest quotes by her. They might even be the 20 greatest quotes by anyone.

May you now rest, Maya. You deserve it. And thank you.

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

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”

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

“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.”

“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.'”

“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.”

“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.”

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

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

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

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

“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.”

“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.”

“Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.”

“During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.”

“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.”

“Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.”