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MAYA ANGELOU
– A Rainbow of Wisdom

Maya Angelou (/ˈm.ə ˈænəl/; born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than 50 years. She received dozens of awards and over 30 honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught atWake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she held the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr.and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993) at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

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Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

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.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

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.

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.

The love of the family, the love of the person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.

Nothing will work unless you do.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

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