Maya Angelou? Claudia Tate? Apocryphal?
Reply from Quote Investigator: Maya Angelou spoke on this theme several times. In 1970 the “Los Angeles Times” reported on Angelou’s motivations for writing her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[ref] 1970 April 16, Los Angeles Times, Faith of Black Woman in a World Full of Conflict by Maggie Savoy (Times Woman’s Editor), (Continuation title: Faith of Black Woman Amid Turmoil), Start Page 1, Quote Page 8, Column 2, Los Angeles, California. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
“I meant to write it to black girls, to say ‘you can win.’ But it came out the Chinese girl in Chinatown, the white girl in Texas, the farm girl In Iowa, the deb living up on the hill. All people harbor the same fears, dreams, hopes, goals.
They want to love. That is the human condition. I wanted to say to all girls, ‘You may encounter many defeats, but you just must never be defeated.’”
In 1979 the “Lexington Herald” of Kentucky presented an interview with Angelou during which she said the following:[ref] 1979 April 12, Lexington Herald, Poet Says Her Love of Poetry Grew Despite Poverty by Eileen Levy (The Herald Sun Staff), Quote Page A3, Column 4 and 5, Lexington, Kentucky. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
“Bitterness is like cancer,” said Ms. Angelou, when asked if the adversity in her early life had embittered her. “It eats away at you and doesn’t develop anything. But anger purges, and can help you.
“I believe it may be necessary to encounter many defeats,” Ms. Angelou said, “without being defeated by them. Trials shape and mold you. I think I am a result of the pressure I have endured.”
Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.
Image Notes: A chessboard representing defeat and victory from Artur Shamsutdinov at Unsplash.
Acknowledgement: Great thanks to the anonymous person whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.