Legendary author, poet and actress Maya Angelou, who passed away Wednesday morning at age 86, will be remembered for her uncommon wisdom as much as for her award-winning writing. Deep insight into the African-American experience and a compassionate perspective—combined with a magical way with words—equipped her to weigh in like no other on what it meant to be black in her lifetime, as well as to provide broad, timeless advice. When this phenomenal woman spoke, we listened. And her words on topics from racism to perseverance to the power of love won’t soon be forgotten.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of that tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.” —Maya Angelou
On the Liberating Power of Love
“I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’ ” —Maya Angelou
On the Intensity of Racism
“The plague of racism is insidious, entering into our minds as smoothly and quietly and invisibly as floating airborne microbes enter into our bodies to find lifelong purchase in our bloodstreams.” —Maya Angelou