For much of her childhood, Maya Angelou refused to speak. She believed her words would hurt people, not raise them up. She believed that speaking out about a difficult childhood would make her weaker, not stronger. Then it all changed.

With the publication of her memoir, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” Maya Angelou built herself a voice – one that would not only raise her up, but would raise millions of readers and listeners around the world.

She was a woman of many talents, although best known as a writer and a poet, who lived life with the philosophy of joy encapsulated by her favorite saying – “life loves the liver of it.” Her poems and essays are remarkable in their ability to bring forth the best within us, as demonstrated by her powerful work of writing, “Still I Rise.”

She once said, “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.” And that’s exactly how she encouraged others to live as well, using her status as a prominent writer to promote arts and literature up until the very end of her life. [Read other quotes by Maya Angelou]

She compared the development of the human soul to the development of a butterfly, writing that change should be celebrated, not feared, and that difficult circumstances can make the best out of us.

And, when asked what the goal of life should be, Maya often offered a poetic answer – “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”