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All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #5)

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,899 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
"Thoroughly enjoyable . . . an important document drawing more much-needed attention to the hidden history of a people both African and American."--Los Angeles Times Book Review.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published (first published 1986)
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“And now, less than one hundred years after slavery was abolished, some descendants of those early slaves taken from Africa returned, weighted with a heavy hope, to a continent which they could not remember, to a home which had shamefully little memory of them.” - Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes

Maya Angelou was a wonderful woman who struggled against the odds and gave us a wealth of experience and wisdom to draw from, as well as a reminder of our history. I’m always surpr
Jan 03, 2016 Eman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

And now we come to Maya Angelou's fifth autobiography; All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes. This is a 240 pages book which has 42 chapters but most of them are super tiny which is perfect if you get easily distracted. Naturally I recommend reading the entire series, but somehow this volume has an independent soul. Maya had finally embraced her Africanism by spending some quality time in Ghana. Fate or chance brought her back to the black continent but was she contented enough?

There is a fl
Thank goodness for the "Books-a-Million" African-American lit shelf, where they stock books front cover forward. There I was, waiting at their cafe for some chai, and this book was right there smiling at me. As soon as I flipped through the pages and saw Maya Angelou's reference to Liberia (my birth land where I spent most of my adolescence), I knew I had to buy and read.

During the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, a group of black Americans weary of the racial tensions, left America
Demetri Broxton-Santiago
Sep 22, 2007 Demetri Broxton-Santiago rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone, but especially African-Americans
I read this book in Ghana-- the site of the majority of the story. Maya Angelou is amazing. I could smell, feel, and visualize everything she spoke about. It didn't hurt that I was on the Legon University campus when I began this journey.
Angelou accurately portrays the African-American experience when we make that journey of discovery to Mama Africa. She vividly describes that desire to fall down and kiss the earth-- the earth that is OURS-- that our ancestors and cells within our bone's marro
May 18, 2015 Darkowaa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
!!! Review:

This is book 5 in Maya Angelou's autobiography series. I've read books 1-3 when I was younger. I'll have to dig thru my Mom's old books and read book 4 before the year ends!
Maya Angelou can do no wrong - seriously! This book takes place in Ghana (mostly Accra) in the 1960's, shortly after Ghana's independence in 1957. Maya Angelou joins a community of 'Revolutionist Returnees' - African Americans/Negro Americans on their quest to explore, unde
Monica (The World thru my Eyes BLOG)
I've got nothing but love, respect and admiration for this woman.
Brilliant writer, exceptional human being and humorous lady.
What a combination of brilliance.
I recommend all of her books to anyone and everyone. There's something in there for all of us.
It's so good to visit an old friend! The opening provides such a contrast to today's "tell all" fashion, with people on talk shows and "reality TV" going on and on with how they've been wronged by others. Angelou, for those who don't remember, begins with her (frankly self-centered) response to her son's horrible injuries in an automobile accident in Ghana. The accident turned her life upside down, squashing her plans for life in Africa, leaving her as a damaged shell. She pulls no punches, deta ...more
I don't have a ton to say about this one except that it's a really interesting look at a place and time, and at the idea of...hmm, ideas of home, maybe, and of what home means and what fitting in means and so on.

Mostly, though, I just want to pull out a few quotations:

We had come home, and if home was not what we had expected, never mind, our need for belonging allowed us to ignore the obvious and to create real places or even illusory places, befitting our imagination. (19)

I doubted if I, or an
Apr 01, 2008 Bethany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bethany by: African-American Lit Professor
I give this five stars because Maya is such an incredible story teller. She wisks you along like a boat on a fast-moving current. She expresses both loathing and yearning for America, and I am torn between understanding and disappointment at her negativity towards the nation that fought the civil war and still strives to overcome 400 years of slavery.
F.E.  Feeley Jr.
Jun 14, 2016 F.E. Feeley Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and recently got it in the mail. After the Orlando shooting that has our country reeling, I needed to get out of my head. And I needed to get out of my heart.
So, last night - I picked up this book and began to read and I finished it, when the sun came up.
I don't know what to say about this. I don't know how to articulate in any fashion what this book made me feel that wouldn't come off vulgar in comparison to the words of Dr. Angelou.
We were gi
May 24, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Another great read by Maya Angelou. Most of her books are biographical. this one focuses on the two years she lived in Ghana. She was there in the early 1060s. Her son Guy was 17 when they first came there. He was involved in a very serious car accident shortly after graduating from high school. After spending a long while in the hospital with neck injuries he finally got better and began college. Ms. Angelou then spent the next two years. Learning about the people who lived in Ghana, dated inte ...more
Maria Paiz
Mar 31, 2013 Maria Paiz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this autobiographical book, set in the early 1960s, Maya Angelou is stranded in Ghana after her son has an accident. As her son heals and she starts acclimating to her new environment, she slowly begins to learn how in Ghana, where skin color is no longer an issue, she is still discriminated upon as a Black American. She talks about the hardships of Blacks returning to Africa in a search of their roots, only to discover that those have been severed and forgotten over time. There are two scene ...more
I've been reading through the autobiographies of Maya Angelou. This is the next for me - fifth in the series of seven written by this extraordinary woman. The title derives from a Negro Spiritual, and describes Angelou's years spent in Ghana in the early 1960s. She became part of the ex-pat community and felt both at home because of her ancestry and apart because she was immediately recognized as a Black American. Although she made many Ghanaian friends she was surprised at the attitudes of the ...more
I never would have read this book, but its part of our Sophomore curriculum so I didn't have a choice. I now feel terrible that I've never really read anything by Maya Angelou before -- I always just sort of thought of her as someone who was important but I assumed the sort of person who would be asked to read a poem at a presidential inauguration wasn't an author I'd really like. I was VERY wrong -- not only is her story powerful and well written, but she is a kick-ass woman as well, a single-m ...more
Jul 27, 2015 May-Ling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: authors-of-color
i hadn't read anything by maya angelou until this book, and it made me want to read more. she writes so well, and her strong, feisty, spirit truly shines in her voice. the book chronicles her time in ghana and i liked hearing about her identity struggles and actual events that happened during her time there, as she navigated between her black american identity and her identity as a resident of ghana - what to change and what to adapt.

it was a privilege to hear of her numerous conversations with
Leisha Wharfield
Jul 02, 2015 Leisha Wharfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straightforward African-American expatriate memoir, except Maya, so the storytelling is frank and engaging, chapter to chapter, with occasional poetic riffs that make me go Ah. Ah, yes, Sister Maya, you help me know, I cry with the people of Keta, I thrill with the discovery of her ancestry and with the persistence of men who desire her beauty, strength, and wisdom. Then I cry again, because she died recently, then I laugh again, remembering her "American Negro" sisters who spoke about her in th ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
dare i admit i once read this?
Milica Marjanović
"The breezes of the West African night were intimate and shy, licking the hair, sweeping through cotton dresses with unseemly intimacy, then disappearing into the utter blackness. Daylight was equally insistent, but much more bold and thoughtless. It dazzled, muddling the sight. It forced through my closed eyelids, bringing me up and out of a borrowed bed and into brand new streets."

When I was a child, my grandmother would observe me weeping and say, “Be careful, Sister. The more you cry, the le
Pauline Evanosky
May 05, 2015 Pauline Evanosky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pauline Evanosky by: Library
Reading “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes” is a glimpse into Maya Angelou’s heart during a period of time that she searched for her African heritage in the 1960s. All of us in the US originally came from somewhere else with the exception of our native tribes and for the most part our ancestors came of their own free will. Perhaps it didn’t seem to them at the time there was much choice as they fled religious persecution, famine or economic hardship. Making a long sea faring journey in its ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Arlene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou wrote seven autobiographies (sometimes labeled as auto-biographical fiction), each about a phase of her life. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes was published in 1986 and told of her years in Ghana, Africa from 1962-65. The only other Angelou book I have read is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings published in 1969 which told of her young years up to age 17.

Even though I read Caged Bird many years ago, I remember it enough to say that it was far more riveting than All God's Childre
Jul 23, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently returned from an intensive two weeks of studying the history of slavery in the United States, I was particularly moved by Angelou's attempts to reconnect with the culture of her ancestors during the early 1960s, when she fled the racial and political upheaval of the United States with her son Guy to live and work in Liberia and Ghana. Though her attempts to come to terms with Guy's inevitable progression into manhood and desire to define the next chapter of her life serve as the ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reality-rocks, africa
I wonder, when Maya wrote this autobiographical account in 1986 about her time spent in Ghana in the 1960's, if she could could have foreseen where her tome would end up in 2014. I hauled a yellowed copy home in October, squashed in the bottom of a box of used books. I tried to sell it online, only to find out it's worth a penny plus shipping and handling. I thumbed through and started reading it. Wouldn't ya know, I got hooked on page one. I love Maya's way with words, and I love to read about ...more
Aug 07, 2016 Tanja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ad-autobiography
In the book, Maya Angelou talks about a year she spent in Ghana in the early 1960s. I enjoyed coming across so many familiar names, places, events, customs and traditions - a real journey back in time and place. I was surprised to discover how little I had known about Maya Angelou before reading the book and having had a totally wrong idea of who she was and what she was like. Most surprised I was to discover that she had quite a bit of a temper (at least when she was younger), having always tho ...more
Esther Brumme
Jan 23, 2016 Esther Brumme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I jumped right into the fifth of Maya Angelou’s seven part autobiographical series and thoroughly enjoyed it. In this installment, Angelou writes about her life as an African-American expatriate in Ghana between 1962 and 1965. I don’t know when I last read a book set in the 1960s. Between the racial tensions of the civil rights movement and the pain of watching her adult son Guy distance himself, this book contains no dusty or warped monochrome photograph. It’s also not just a sad report on ‘lif ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can never get enough Maya...a beautiful story to remind it is up to us to make our way in this world
Aug 21, 2014 Fred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is book 5 of Maya Angelou's autobiography and it is full of her time spent in Ghana; coming to terms, in some ways, with her peoples' birth place, the growth, maturity and independence of her son, Guy, and her eventual intent to return to America to work with Malcolm X and his Organization for Afro American Unity ( This is terrific personal - and I ma very personal - historiography and done is Ms Angelou's singular and compelling prose. I highly rec ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Emilie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reading
By far, my least favorite of Maya's autobiographies so far. This book is almost entirely political commentary on Africa and the similarities and differences between African Blacks and American Blacks in the civil rights era.

On a side note, through all of these biographies you come to revere Maya as a strong, smart, savvy, woman and yet we see her foolishly plunge into relationships with the crappiest of men over and over again. It gets so frustrating. I know this is an account of her life and t
Kimberly Badal
Jan 18, 2016 Kimberly Badal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It takes a contemplative and intelligent spirit to write such a poetic biography such as this. I learnt a lot. About africanness and the struggle to regain what was taken, what was given away... What was lost. About the beauty of Africa and its people and the thread that still runs through the disapora. About the fight, the intelligence the pride of African people. I love how honest and open she was in writing about her flaws, her moments of self discovery and of letting go. I have taken note of ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 5th instalment in Maya Angelou's autobiography and I read it almost in one sitting. Out of all of her books, this one is second only to the story of her early childhood, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

In this book, Maya has relocated (via Cairo and other places in Book 4) to Ghana, fully intending to reclaim her African roots and find somewhere that she feels she can belong. The elation of not being judged by the colour of her skin quickly fades as she finds she is instead judged by
Jul 22, 2016 Sydney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes is the story of a Black American's experience living in Africa.

"We wore skeletons of old despair like necklaces, heralding our arrival, and we were branded with cynicism...we carried the badge of a barbarous history"

The books toys and challenges the idea of home and ancestral roots, and if they are synonymous. Are Black Americans truly at home in America? Angelou asks this question during her tenure in Ghana.

Angelou tells this story almost episodically, r
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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969 which was n ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (6 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #3)
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • A Song Flung Up To Heaven

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“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” 429 likes
“If the heart of Africa remained elusive, my search for it had brought me closer to understanding myself and other human beings. The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. It impels mighty ambitions and dangerous capers. We amass great fortunes at the cost of our souls, or risk our lives in drug dens from London’s Soho, to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. We shout in Baptist churches, wear yarmulkes and wigs and argue even the tiniest points in the Torah, or worship the sun and refuse to kill cows for the starving. Hoping that by doing these things, home will find us acceptable or failing that, that we will forget our awful yearning for it.” 5 likes
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