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All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

(Maya Angelou's Autobiography #5)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  6,372 ratings  ·  337 reviews
Once again, the poet casts her spell as she resumes one of the greatest personal narratives of our time. In this continuation, Angelou relates how she joins a "colony" of Black American expatriates in Ghana--only to discover no one ever goes home again. ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 20th 1997 by Random House (first published March 12th 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This was the first book in this year's Postal Book Swap F rotation, all secret until we've all seen all of them. I picked this up to read the same day I spoke to a woman working at a permanent refugee camp in Malawi, and I read the first half without a break. I couldn't stop reading!

Maya Angelou is so engaging. It isn't surprising that a poet would write so lyrically, but there are moments that are so beautifully written.

I didn't know about this period of Angelou's life, about her disillusionme
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the fifth volume of Angelou’s autobiography and covers the time when she lived abroad, mainly in Ghana. It is set around 1963/1964 and begins when Angelou is 33. Colonialism and Empire is ending and African states are taking over their own affairs. A number of Black Americans felt the draw of Africa, Angelou was among them:
“Our people had always longed for home. For centuries, we had sung about a place not built with hands, where the streets were paved with gold and were washed with hone
Deacon Tom F
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Maya Angelou. If you haven’t recognized it by now I’m giving myself the gift of Maya writing to myself for a Christmas present.

Well this is the period of the 60s when she’s visiting Africa and is very interesting. Because many of the things that happen during that time I was alive for and read in the newspapers. Particularly, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Throughout the book she struggles against many odds. Such as her constant lack of money, the caring of her child educ
Sep 09, 2014 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 complacent enough?

There is a f
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 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
Jun 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fifth of Maya Angelou's biographies and - excluding I Know Why... - probably my favourite. In this book her writing takes on a maturity, wit, perceptiveness and boldness which just floored me. The exploration of belonging and home were so intimate and at times chilling, the scenes of 60s Ghana were so rich and the energy of the Nkrumah years so tangible, and the depictions of motherhood were so tender. An important reminder that when life is getting you down, give yourself the gift of Maya A ...more
Apr 06, 2015 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
João Francisco Ferreira
“He said, ‘This is not their place. In time they will pass. Ghana was here when they came. When they go, Ghana will be here. They are like mice on an elephant’s back. They will pass.’”

The reflections Maya suggests and requires are masterfully done, especially the ones on identity and belonging.
I could not hold my tears after reading the last pages of this book, it is so heartbreaking and hopeful and beautiful and enraging.
This book is an African-American ode to Ghana and to Africa, and I am fore
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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. ❤️
Kym Moore
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Maya Angelou goes deep with personal experiences and encouraging advice. Loved it!
Wow. What an eye-opener. Fascinating, inspiring and beautifully wrought.
Lake Villa District Library
[Re]DISCOVER in 2020. Find this book in our catalog! ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And the story goes on. This one was a wonderful eye-opener; so much to learn about the differences between "real" African and American-African character. Can't wait to read the next one, though I suppose Maya is going back to USA.
This book I'm sure I'll read again!
Ruth Bonetti
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Many thought provoking, even moving experiences in the author's venture to rediscover her roots in Ghana. My rating is lowered by an occasional lack of clarity about the various people that populate the book, which required this reader to backtrack a chapter to locate their place in the narrative. Especially interesting to read an insider colleague's viewpoint of experiences alongside Malcolm X. ...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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Every moment in Ghana called attention to itself and each social affair was self conscious. When I went dancing, between the beats and during the steps, I thought, ‘Here I am, Maya Angelou, dancing in Africa. I know I’m having a good time.’ Shopping in the crowded streets I thought, ‘This is me at last, really me, buying peppers in Makola market aren’t I lucky?’”
I read this book while I too, am in Accra, and although for many reasons my experience is different, I related to her writing, the des
Engaging autobiographical story of her time living in Ghana in the 1960's. In her lovely style, she compares her experience of black Americans with the African experience and how they differ but have similarities. She tells of the fascinating people she meets there, including a visit by Malcolm X and meeting the President of Liberia. Her piercing insights into herself are always enlightening and every one of her autobiographies have been awesome. ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-tbr
Not much happens in this, Maya lives in Ghana and has a job, she meets people and feels discontent. I think maybe it’s about living somewhere where you don’t feel you belong, she does write beautifully but this seemed like it could have been a chapter in an autobiography rather than needing its own book.
Elizabeth Joss)
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! I love Angelou's autobiographies. They are so human, they make you laugh but then on the next page you are sobbing. A fantastic storyteller. Anyone who is or has lived in another country will love this book. ...more
Katrine Solvaag
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's honest, it's light-hearted, it's contemplative and still it manages to reflect on one person's struggle with history and it's cruelties. The first one I've read in Angelou's autobiographical sequence, but definitely not the last! ...more
Ying Ying
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of exquisite story paired with exquisite writing. In this volume of Maya Angelou's memoir series, she goes to Africa in her search for home, discovering her roots and understanding her own differences. Her son grows up and prepares to lead an independent life. ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fifth of seven memoirs by the great poet, performer and activist, Maya Angelou. She wrote with such fierceness and emotion that I couldn't put this book down. In the 1960s, Maya and her son Guy spent some time in Ghana after she divorced her husband. Her journey to Ghana gave her a new perspective on personal freedom, race relations, and slavery. She stayed close to friends that she knew from home and abroad, but she also befriended quite a few people from many different places as sh ...more
Michael Esquivel
In book five of her autobiographical series, Maya Angelou takes us to Africa where she takes residence in Ghana for three years. Through her eyes, we experience a prosperous place virtually free of White people; a place that any discriminatory person would consider an oxymoron. With Miss Angelou, we learn some of the differences between Africans and African-Americans and how centuries of slavery have changed the African DNA in America. We witness Malcom X’s first time in Africa and his awkward a ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography I read and her writing still amazes me. This one is not as much about the civil rights movement in the US (although Malcolm X appears) as the African-American diaspora in Africa, particularly Ghana and the experience of the return to the motherland. Universal questions of identity are raised but also important issues to read as a white/european reader, around slavery and the development of Africa. ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's always a pleasure to read Angelou's graceful prose, and this time the subject matter offers something new. While there are familiar elements (her connection with the civil rights struggle, her relationship with her son, her tangled love life) it's the exploration of the experience of being a black American in Africa which is the most interesting. In addition to the sense of dislocation experienced by all expats there's the complex issue of racial heritage, and an often difficult realisation ...more
Pranjali Deshpande
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been reading Maya Angelou's autobiography series in a haphazard manner, starting from the end and picking up the stories in between. But any book I pick up doesn't really feel like a continuation of the ones before, and that's a good thing , if someone doesn't want to commit to reading the whole series.
Anyone who has been displaced from their country or culture of birth or feel a sense of belonging to a place other than the place they are in, will find a lot to identify with in Maya's acco
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tremendously inspiring read. Happy I read it when I was in Ghana.
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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 ...more

Other books in the series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1)
  • 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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