Maya Angelou: Courage is the Most Important Virtue

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou: "Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

Maya Angelou: Courage is the Most Important Virtue

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an African-American poet and author most famous for her landmark 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of seven autobiographical accounts of her incredible life.


Angelou was and still is revered for her sage wisdom and keen insights into race, class, and self-determination. The quote below reflects her belief that a well-lived life relies upon the courageous dedication to lead that life. It takes bravery to dedicate oneself to virtue; you can't have the latter without a whole lot of the former.

We are fortunate to have author and talk show host Tavis Smiley among our many Big Think Experts. Smiley recently published a book titled My Journey with Mayaa recollection of his 30-year friendship with the iconic American poet. Below, Smiley discusses some of Angelou's most helpful pieces of advice:

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