Maya Angelou has died at age 86. The award winning author, poet and civil rights activist was famous for teaching the world the power of words. In Angelou’s long and accomplished life, in addition to being a mother, she published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and countless books of poetry. Further more to her literary contributions, Angelou is credited with writing six plays, and has worked on endless movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years.

Despite this awe-inspiring resume, and list of works, Maya Angelou is best now for her autobiographies, which tell the story of her early childhood and adult experiences. The first of these, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing” published in 1969 is her most notable and poignant work. The autobiography, which shares its title with a piece of her poetry, tells the story of her life up until age 17, and while most children and teens remember happy experience, Angelo’s life up until that point was everything but that. Her passion for writing was first ignited following a childhood tragedy, at 7 years old, a young Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After testifying against him, he was beaten to death by an angry mob.

Angelou recounted the horrific memory; “My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years.” Despite her silence, a louder and more powerful voice was born through written word showcased in “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” In celebration of her prolific life, and her most famous work, Latin Times has collected the top 15 most inspirational quotes from her 1969 autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.”

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” -- Maya Angelou

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” -- Maya Angelou

“Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.” -- Maya Angelou

“To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision. Few, if any, survive their teens. Most surrender to the vague but murderous pressure of adult conformity. It becomes easier to die and avoid conflict than to maintain a constant battle with the superior forces of maturity.” -- Maya Angelou

“She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.” -- Maya Angelou

“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.” -- Maya Angelou

“Ritie, don't worry 'cause you ain't pretty. Plenty pretty women I seen digging ditches or worse. You smart. I swear to God, I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.” -- Maya Angelou

“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education. ” -- Maya Angelou

“Life is going to give you just what you put in it. Put your whole heart in everything you do, and pray, then you can wait.” -- Maya Angelou

“If you're for the right thing, you do it without thinking.” -- Maya Angelou

“Without willing it, I had gone from being ignorant of being ignorant to being aware of being aware. And the worst part of my awareness was that I didn't know what I was aware of. I knew I knew very little, but I was certain that the things I had yet to learn wouldn't be taught to me at George Washington High School. ” -- Maya Angelou

“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.” -- Maya Angelou

“If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.” -- Maya Angelou

“The world had taken a deep breath and was having doubts about continuing to revolve.” -- Maya Angelou

“The intensity with which young people live demands that they "blank out" as often as possible.” -- Maya Angelou