Schools Training

15 Inspirational Maya Angelou Quotes to Make us a Better Human

30 MAY 2014



Earlier this week, the world was shocked and deeply saddened to find out that it had lost Maya Angelou, the famed writer, educator and civil rights activist, who passed away at age 86. Through her writing and activism, Dr. Angelou inspired several generations to move boldly through the world and rise above racial discrimination.

Fans of Maya Angelou will remember the poet laureate for her memorable quotes, wise pieces of advice as well as her best-selling autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her Pulitzer Prize nomination for her film Georgia, Georgia and the numerous awards she won throughout her career, including three Grammys, the Presidential Medal of Arts and the Lincoln Medal.

Dr. Angelou frequently accepted speaking engagements and was known to be very generous with her time. In 2004, she addressed the students of Syracuse University as part of the Women’s Leadership Program. She sang gospel songs, read from some of her most famous works and shared advice to the students. “You can see in others what they don’t see in themselves and what the world doesn’t see in them,” she said according to The Post-Standard’s school news archives. “We all have that possibility, that potential and that promise of seeing beyond the seeming.”

Her wit, sense of humour and graciousness made her truly one-of-a-kind.

15 Inspirational Maya Angelou Quotes to Make us a Better Human



To celebrate her life and career, here are some of our favorite quotes from Maya Angelou:

  • “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
  • “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
  • “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
  • “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
  • “All great achievements require time.”
  • “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
  • “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
  • “I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn…”
  • “Nothing will work unless you do.”
  • “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.”
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
  • “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
  •  “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  • “When you know better, you do better.”
  • “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.”

For more on Maya Angelou’s life and work, we highly recommend listening to this radio interview of Dr. Angelou with NPR. You can also find many educational articles and education news online on her work as an educator.