Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

Maya Angelou Quotes

  • ''The needs of a society determine its ethics, and in the Black American ghettos the hero is that man who is offered only the crumbs from his country's table but by ingenuity and courage is able to take for himself a Lucullan feast. Hence the janitor who lives in one room but sports a robin's-egg-blue Cadillac is not laughed at but admired, and the domestic who buys forty-dollar shoes is not criticized but is appreciated. We know that they have put to use their full mental and physical powers. Each single gain feeds into the gains of the body collective.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 29 (1970).
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  • ''... the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at a commensurate speed.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 18 (1970).
  • ''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).
  • ''My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail of a man running through slimy swamps.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 19 (1970). Remembering a world heavyweight championship fight of African American boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981), the defending champion, against Primo Carnera (1906-1967), a white Italian challenger and former heavyweight champion. Angelou's grandmother ran a store in the small, strictly segregated, brutally racist town of Stamps, Arkansas. Her family and neighbors crowded the store to listen to the fight on radio. At this point, Carnera had Louis on the ropes and was pummelling him. But Louis would fight back and prevail. Louis, who had won the championship in 1937 by defeating James J. Braddock, held it until his first retirement in 1949; he had defended the title successfully twenty-five times, scoring twenty-one knockouts. He returned to fighting in 1950 and retired permanently the following year, ironically after being knocked out by a white Italian-American: Rocky Marciano (1924-1969). It was only his third defeat in seventy-one professional fights.
  • ''Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author, poet. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 4 (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).
  • ''Then the question began to live under my blankets: How did lesbianism begin? What were the symptoms? The public library gave information on the finished lesbian—and that woefully sketchy—but on the growth of a lesbian, there was nothing. I did discover that the difference between hermaphrodites and lesbians was that hermaphrodites were "born that way." It was impossible to determine whether lesbians budded gradually, or burst into being with a suddenness that dismayed them as much as it repelled society.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, vol. 1, ch. 35 (1969).
  • ''People in Stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn't buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be satisfied with chocolate.''
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 8 (1970). Remembering her childhood in strictly segregated, harshly racist Stamps, Arkansas, during the 1930s.
  • ''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.

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Best Poem of Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my ...

Read the full of Phenomenal Woman

They Went Home

They went home and told their wives,
that never once in all their lives,
had they known a girl like me,
But... They went home.

They said my house was licking clean,
no word I spoke was ever mean,
I had an air of mystery,
But... They went home.

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