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wednesday’s who ~ 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.”

-Maya Angelou; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

We know her so very well through her poetry and shared words of wisdom and encouragement. And I know, we will never forget how she made us all feel inspired and empowered, sad and happy, loved and not abandoned. and everything in between of those. We can never forget how she picked us up from the ground so many times we lost counting. How she reminded us of our own strength and beauty and wisdom and courage. How she stirred our imaginations and urged us to try again, to trust again, to love again. How she made us realize the simplicity of life, the equality of all, the endlessness of hope. And that is her legacy, her immortality.

“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

“I know for sure that loves saves me and that it is here to save us all.”

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

“Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall in love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.”

“What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”

“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!”

“If you’re serious, you really understand that it’s important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you’re the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you’re funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity.”

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.”

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

“I know some people might think it odd – unworthy even – for me to have written a cookbook, but I make no apologies. The U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins thought I had demeaned myself by writing poetry for Hallmark Cards, but I am the people’s poet so I write for the people.”

“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.”

“The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”

“That’s the biggest gift I can give anybody: ‘Wake up, be aware of who you are, what you’re doing and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming ill.'”

“I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.”

“Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.”

“I’m always disappointed when people don’t live up to their potential. I know that a number of people look down on themselves and consequently on everybody who looks like them. But that, too, can change.”

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

“If I’m the people’s poet, then I ought to be in people’s hands – and, I hope, in their heart.”

 

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