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Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Quotations

  • ''There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women. It's as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. interview broadcast, Nov. 21, 1973. "A Conversation with Maya Angelou," Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989).
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  • ''...there is a difference between being convinced and being stubborn. I'm not certain what the difference is, but I do know that if you butt your head against a stone wall long enough, at some point you realize the wall is stone and that your head is flesh and blood.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. As quoted in Reel Women, part 4, by Ally Acker (1991). Said in 1979, on giving up her attempt to be named director of the television version of the first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
  • ''...talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author and performer. Black Women Writers at Work, ch. 1, by Claudia Tate (1983).
  • ''I thought if war did not include killing, I'd like to see one every year.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American author and performer. Gather Together in My Name, ch. 1 (1974). On the sense of "festival" in the San Francisco African American community that followed the announcement of victory in World War II.
  • ''Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. Gather Together in My Name, vol. 2, ch. 6 (1974).
  • ''The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 29 (1969).
  • ''Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 17 (1969).
  • ''At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 31 (1969).
  • ''In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn't really, absolutely know what whites looked like.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 4 (1970). Remembering her childhood in strictly segregated, harshly racist Stamps, Arkansas, during the 1930s.
  • ''Something made greater by ourselves and in turn that makes us greater.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. interview in Black Scholar (Jan.-Feb. 1977). Defining work.

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The Detached

We die,
Welcoming Bluebeards to our darkening closets,
Stranglers to our outstretched necks,
Stranglers, who neither care nor
care to know that
DEATH IS INTERNAL.

We pray,
Savoring sweet the teethed lies,

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