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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 (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:

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Mystery effect speeds up the universe – not dark energy, says study

Russian astrophysicists propose the Casimir Effect causes the universe's expansion to accelerate.

Black hole accretion disk visualization.

Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman
Surprising Science
  • Astrophysicists from Russia propose a theory that says dark energy doesn't exist.
  • Instead, the scientists think the Casimir Effect creates repulsion.
  • This effect causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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