Who is Maya Angelou? 10 famous quotes as US poet makes history

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Maya Angelou, the award-winning poet and civil rights activist, has made history by becoming the first black woman to be featured on a US quarter.

The coins have officially gone into circulation; to celebrate this symbolic ode to the late poet we compiled some of Maya Angelou’s best quotes.

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Excited to announce that today, Maya Angelou becomes the first Black woman to appear on a US quarter!

The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long—especially women of color. Proud to have led this bill to honor their legacies. pic.twitter.com/TYZeEJ8LhX

— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 10, 2022

Who was Maya Angelou?

Maya Angelou (4, April 1928 – 28, May 2014) was a poet, author, and civil rights activist who’s work spans over 50 years.

Her most well-known works are And Still I Rise and I know why the caged bird sings, both frequently taught in schools across the United States. She was also Hollywood’s first black female director. She is remembered amongst the likes of Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde.

The New US Quarter Explained

The new US Quarter featuring Maya Angelou has been officially minted and put into circulation, making history as the first black female to be on the coin.

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Her design is the first to be released from a four-year “American Women Quarters Program” which will celebrate women from US history.

The design, which features Angelou with her arms outstretched over the shape of an eagle in the background, pays homage to her inspiring work about hope and resilience. Previous prominent “tails” designs include images from each of the 50 states, which frequently become collectors’ items.

The “heads” side of the quarters are also updated: still showing a sculpture of George Washington but now choosing one made by a female artist that was suggested but overlooked for the original mint in 1932.

10 Touching Quotes about Life, Politics, and Love

“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

From Still I Rise (reading by Rosie Perez).

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Oprah discussing life lessons with Maya Angelou.

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

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” From Black and Powerful.

“We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear”

From A Brave And Startling Truth.

Photo by Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them” From Letter to My Daughter.

“I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say I want to see a better world.” From the memorial service of Coretta Scott King.

“The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.”

From I know why the caged bird sings.

“Life loves the liver of it” From Letter to my Daughter.

“To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?”

Quoted from the New York Times.

You can read more of her poems here and find an overview of her civil rights impact here.

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