Prolific writer, poet, playwright and civil rights activist Maya Angelou would have been 87 today. When Angelou passed away in May of 2014, the world lost not only a revered author, speaker and teacher, but also an unstoppable force of insight, inspiration and enlightenment.
Born in 1928, Angelou worked as a fry cook, nightclub dancer, performer and journalist before publishing her first book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, in 1969. With its release, she was lauded as one of the first African-American women to publicly discuss her personal life and became a beacon for the discourse on both women's rights and African-American culture. Angelou went on to publish seven autobiographies, three books of essays, poetry, children's books cookbooks and several plays over the next 50 years.
Throughout her 86 years, Angelou overcame sexual abuse, poverty and prostitution to become a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, dozens of awards, more than 50 honorary degrees, three Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and the Lincoln Medal.
A very happy birthday to Ms. Angelou. May her wisdom inspire and enlighten you today, and for many days to come.
1. "Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently."
2. “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."
3. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
4. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
5. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
6. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
7. “No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
8. "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."
9. “First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”
10. “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”
11. “We need much less than we think we need.”
12. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
13. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
14. “I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”
15. "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."
16. "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
17. "When you learn, teach, when you get, give."
18. "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody."
19. "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."
20. "We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human being are more alike than we are unalike."
21. Phenomenal Woman