Legendary scribe Maya Angelou is widely considered one of the greatest writers of our time. But few people know that writing was only one of her extraordinary talents. The revered poet was also a professor, an educator, a historian, a playwright, a novelist, a producer, a director, a singer and an actress. And she used every art form she embraced to further her mission to empower women.
Maya Angelou née Marguerite Ann Johnson celebrated her femininity not only onstage as a performer but in many of her poems and quotes. Sartorially, she was a talented and feminine dresser wearing gowns and head wraps befitting of a woman of grace, class and style. As we look back over her life (April 4, 1928–May 28, 2014), we can’t forget to honor her boundless beauty, her inimitable style and her unwavering commitment to celebrating women. Check out timeless pictures of Maya Angelou alongside her quotes about womanhood and the human spirit.
1. Maya Angelou
"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
2. Maya Angelou
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."
3. Maya Angelou
"A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim."
4. Maya Angelou
“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.”
5. Maya Angelou
"Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room."
6. Maya Angelou
"Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?"
7. Maya Angelou
"I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being."
8. Maya Angelou
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."
9. Maya Angelou
"If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."
10. Maya Angelou
"We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike."
11. Maya Angelou
"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."
12. Maya Angelou
"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option."
13. Maya Angelou
"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it."
14. Maya Angelou
"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love."
15. Maya Angelou
"I'm a woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman. That's me."
16. Maya Angelou
"The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you're wrinkled."
17. Maya Angelou
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
18. Maya Angelou
“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.”