Maya Angelou Quotes: Her 25 Most Inspirational For Students Everywhere
Maya Angelou was an American original, and while we recently lost her to age and poor health, her way with words will continue to permeate our nation’s cultural and literary landscape for as long as we remain. That’s led us to pull together some of our favorite Maya Angelou quotes. Each of these can in some way be tied back in to education, though not all are specifically related to said topic on the surface. Along the way, we’ve included some subheadings that show what students might be able to glean from these words of wisdom. Now without further ado, we give you Maya Angelou Quotes: Her 25 Most Inspirational For Students Everywhere.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
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.
Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.
My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
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.
On Hard Work
Nothing will work unless you do.
All great achievements require time.
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.
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
Of course, there are those critics — New York critics as a rule — who say, ‘Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
For a person who grew up in the ’30s and ‘40s in the segregated South, with so many doors closed without explanation to me, libraries and books said, ‘Here I am, read me.’ Over time I have learned I am at my best around books.
Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’ — which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.
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.
On The Past
Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’
For Africa to me … is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.
Won’t it be wonderful when black history and native American history and Jewish history and all of US history is taught from one book. Just US history.
On Believing In Yourself
Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall in 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.
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.
I believe that every person is born with talent.
Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink, you want more.
In so many ways, segregation shaped me, and education liberated me.
Elimination of illiteracy is as serious an issue to our history as the abolition of slavery.
On Seizing The Day
In a magazine, one can get — from cover to cover — 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it.
Timidity makes a person modest. It makes him or her say, ‘I’m not worthy of being written up in the record of deeds in heaven or on earth.’ Timidity keeps people from their good. They are afraid to say, ‘Yes, I deserve it.’
There have been many other inspiring writers, thought leaders, and personalities to come before Maya Angelou, and there will be many after; but few, if any, will have the ability with words that she did. As you pursue whatever dreams that you have in life, learn from those who’ve come before you. And as Angelou might say, be responsible for you and work hard to get what you want out of life. Good luck!
Got any Maya Angelou quotes of your own that you’d like to share? Drop them in our comments section below!
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]