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All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

(Maya Angelou's Autobiography #5)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  5,672 ratings  ·  291 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.
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
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
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
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. ❤️
Wow. What an eye-opener. Fascinating, inspiring and beautifully wrought.
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
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!
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Nina Grove
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maria Paiz
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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'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
F.E. Jr.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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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
  • Mom & Me & Mom

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