One of the most celebrated individuals in black culture, there is much to be said of Maya Angelou’s large influence on the world of arts, culture and civil rights. Stemming over fifty years, her work includes seven autobiographies, a calypso album, several essays, numerous books of poetry and some script writing. Her variety in her artistic works mirror the different occupations she had from a young age, from being the first African American streetcar driver in San Francisco to a popular nightclub dancer. In her lifetime, she was able to cover every aspect of art and activism, which was very rare for a woman of her ethnicity.
Maya Angelou’s life began in 1928 in Missouri; she happily lived with her parents and older brother. However, when her parents divorced, Angelou was sent to live with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend who raped and abused her. When she finally spoke out about her terrible treatment, the man served time after her family brought the case to the police. When he was released, it is believed that a member of Angelou’s family murdered her abuser. For almost five years, she remained mute, afraid that because she had revealed his atrocities she had sent him to his death.
Despite her harrowing past, Maya Angelou began to thrive at a young age. She traveled Europe with the opera performance of Porgy and Bess, which led her to pursue a short music career. In 1960, she became very active in the civil rights movement and worked with Martin Luther King and Malcom X.
In everything she did and everywhere she was situated in the world, Angelou tried, most times successfully, to make a difference and impact the lives of those around her who suffered from the trials she had been through. From fighting for refugees rights in Ghana to establishing The Organization of Afro-American Unity with Malcom X in New York, she never stopped fighting for what she believed in. On May28th 2014, the world mourned Maya Angelou and remembered her huge influence. Her book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings remains one of the most powerful and inspiring autobiographies of all time.
Here are 15 Maya Angelou quotes that promote fighting for yours and others’ rights and ultimately what you believe in.
15 Maya Angelou Quotes
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” – Maya Angelou
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou
“We may encourage many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou
“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” – Maya Angelou
“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.” – Maya Angelou
“It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play and justice are all like air: we have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.” – Maya Angelou
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” – Maya Angelou
“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.” – Maya Angelou
“In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?'” – Maya Angelou
“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou
“Don’t let the incidents which take place in life bring you low. And certainly don’t whine. You can be brought low, that’s okay, but don’t be reduced by them. Just say, ‘that’s life.'” – Maya Angelou
“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou
“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.” – Maya Angelou
Author: Selena Doner
Selena Doner is a freelance journalist who is passionate about environmental issues, social justice, arts and culture, and travel.
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