25 Quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou

The world has lost a literary legend.

Memoirist and poet, Dr. Maya Angelou has gone to be with the Lord. She died in her home in Salem-Winston, North Carolina on Wednesday at age 86.

Below is a list of some of her top influential quotes, which do their part to help many of us that stayed behind navigate through life.

On God:

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.

Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.

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On love:

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

If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.

The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

On perspective:

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

Nothing will work unless you do.

All great achievements require time.

On being a woman:

I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.

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

On being black:

Black people comprehend the South. We understand its weight. It has rested on our backs… I knew that my heart would break if ever I put my foot down on that soil, moist, still, with old hurts. I had to face the fear/loathing at its source or it would consume me whole.

I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition.

If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.

On life:

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.

I’m considered wise, and sometimes I see myself as knowing. Most of the time, I see myself as wanting to know. And I see myself as a very interested person. I’ve never been bored in my life.

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.

On humanity:

All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.

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.

Growing up, I decided, a long time ago, I wouldn’t accept any manmade differences between human beings, differences made at somebody else’s insistence or someone else’s whim or convenience.

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On courage:

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.

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.

We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!

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Although we may hope for a deferment from heaven’s gates, we praise God for the memory of Dr. Angelou’s voice and spirit.

Sunrise: April 4, 1926                                                      Sunset: May 28,2014