Don’t Bring the Negative to My Door

Maya Angelou? Odetta Holmes? Velma Gibson Watts? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote investigator: The prominent memoirist and poet Maya Angelou overcame great obstacles in her life, and she encouraged others to maintain a positive energetic perspective. She has been credited with this saying:

Don’t bring negative to my door.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote investigator: In 1999 “Maya Angelou: The Poetry of Living” edited by Margaret Courtney-Clarke appeared. The book included laudatory testimony about Angelou from dozens of people. The singer and a civil rights activist Odetta Holmes stated the following. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

We have been brought up to think negatively. Our parents only told us when things went wrong. But Maya always says, “Don’t bring the negative to my door.” She projects attention to the positive and helps us know what to work toward. She reminds us to look for the beauty in things.

The statement ascribed to Angelou employed the phrase “the negative” instead of “negative”. The accuracy of Odetta’s report depends on her memory and veracity. Interestingly, she may have heard the saying directly from Angelou.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Don’t Bring the Negative to My Door


  1. 1999, Maya Angelou: The Poetry of Living, Edited by Margaret Courtney-Clarke, Chapter: Self-Respect, Quote Page 92, Clarkson Potter, New York. (Verified with scans)