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It is one of the most recognized African-American spirituals. Revered, emotive, and rooted in the horrors of US slavery and the oppression of race. But for the last three decades, the familiar melody of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" has also been the adopted anthem of England's rugby.

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She makes a concerted effort to respect Guy as an adult and as the chief decision maker in his own life. She vows to love and support him all she can, but she also takes a conscious step back in order to encourage his growth and autonomy as a self-sufficient human being. Angelou maintains a romantic life as well.

She dates a few different men. One of them is a Ghanaian who suggests that she embrace the native custom of polygamy and become his second wife. Angelou refuses the offer, and while all of her romances are interesting diversions for her, nothing very serious develops with any of her suitors. Though Angelou remains aware of American culture and politics, her support for the nonviolent practices of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Still, when he makes his historic march on Washington, D. The event turns into a celebration of the life and work of civil rights activist W. Du Bois, who died the night before. In , Angelou becomes a supporter of Malcolm X, meeting with him during his visit to Ghana. He asks her to return to America to help him in his civil rights work.

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Though she and her roommates are uncomfortable doing so, they eventually hire a native boy named Kojo to clean their home. Angelou develops an unexpected bond with the boy, and she becomes a sort of mother figure to him. Angelou understands that her relationship with Kojo is a substitute for her evolving relationship with Guy. She and Guy butt heads often in their attempts to separate themselves from one another and establish healthy boundaries. Both of these challenges offer Angelou opportunities to step back and allow Guy to make his own decisions—and his own mistakes.

She accepts, portraying the White Queen during the Venice and Berlin tour stops. She performs alongside some of the most famous African American actors of the twentieth century. While the show is in Berlin, Angelou has a jarring experience after attending a breakfast with a very wealthy—and very racist—German family. In the end, Angelou feels her time in Africa has come to a close. He reminds her of her brother Bailey, and he serves as a substitute for her son Guy. She accepts a maternal role with Kojo, helping him with his schoolwork and welcoming the thanks of his family. Traveling Shoes , like Angelou's previous autobiographies, is full of conflicts with Guy, especially surrounding his independence, his separation from his mother, and his choices.

When she learns that he is dating a woman older than her, she reacts with anger and threatens to strike him, but he patronizes her, calls her his "little mother", [15] and insists upon his autonomy from her. The African narrative in Traveling Shoes is interrupted by "a journey within a journey" [13] when she decides to join a theatrical company in a revival of The Blacks , a play by French writer Jean Genet. While in Berlin, she accepts a breakfast invitation with a racist, wealthy German family. The book ends with Angelou's decision to return to America.

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At the airport, a group of her friends and associates, including Guy, are present to wish her farewell as she leaves. She metaphorically connects her departure from the African continent with the forced enslavement of her ancestors and her departure from Guy. All seven of Angelou's installments of her life story continue the long tradition of African-American autobiography. Starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , Angelou made a deliberate attempt while writing her books to challenge the usual structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre.

All of Angelou's autobiographies conform to the genre's standard structure: they are written by a single author, they are chronological, and they contain elements of character, technique, and theme. Angelou recognizes that there are fictional aspects to all her books, although there is less fictionalization in Traveling Shoes than in her previous autobiographies.

For the first and only time in Angelou's series, she repeats the same episode in detail—her son's automobile accident—at the end of her fourth autobiography The Heart of a Woman and the beginning of this one, a technique that both centralizes each installment and connects each book in the series with each other. Additionally, each volume "ends with abrupt suspense". In Traveling Shoes , Angelou has matured as a writer to the point that she can experiment with form. For the first time, instead of using traditional numbered chapters, the book consists of anecdotes separated with a few inches of white space.

Angelou's stories are told within the context of her entire life story, [36] but each vignette can be read or analyzed individually, without harming the text's consistency. In Traveling Shoes , Angelou continues to demonstrate her strengths as an autobiographer, especially her ability to connect emotionally with her audience, which Lupton calls her "superb use of language in recording moments of emotional intensity".

Even though Traveling Shoes can be read on its own, Angelou connects the events in this book with her previous volumes, as she had done throughout her series. As McPherson states, "Everyday experiences serve as links to Angelou's past and thus embody powerful meanings". She uses humor, another convention she has used before, both to criticize racism and to balance her weighty insights.

She also uses quotes from literary sources, especially the Bible, which demonstrates that she has not lost contact with her family roots as she searches for a home and for her identity. Traveling Shoes is "more tightly controlled" [13] than Angelou's previous books, most likely due to the dominance of the travel motif.

Unlike her previous books, most of this book's action occurs in one setting, Accra, which contributes to and is tightly connected with her personal development. During this trip, she comes to see her fellow African-Americans differently, as more spirited than the Africans she has met in Ghana. A major theme in Traveling Shoes , one that many critics overlook, is Angelou's love for her son.

Motherhood is present in many of the book's subthemes—her relationship with her houseboy Kojo, her delight in being called "Auntie" by many African children, [45] and her feelings toward "Mother Africa".

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

The main character is a mother of a grown son, so liberation from the daily responsibilities of motherhood is emphasized, [43] but it is complicated by the recognition that part of motherhood is letting go, something Angelou struggles with. Confrontations between Angelou and Guy are minimal, consisting of their conflict over his choice of dating a much-older woman and of his demands for autonomy after she returns from the Genet tour. Angelou seems to vacillate between wanting to supervise him and wanting to let go throughout this book.

Like many of her previous books, Angelou is conflicted about her feelings towards Guy, and is skilled at expressing it in this book. She compares her feelings for Kojo with the pain of childbirth, and he serves as substitute for Guy. Angelou's exploration of her African and African-American identities is an important theme in Traveling Shoes. McPherson calls Angelou's parallels and connections between Africa and America her " double-consciousness ", [2] which contribute to her understanding of herself.

Angelou is able to recognize similarities between African and African-American culture; as Lupton puts it, the "blue songs, shouts, and gospels" she has grown up with in America "echo the rhythms of West Africa". In one of the most significant sections of Traveling Shoes , Angelou recounts an encounter with a West African woman who recognizes her, on the basis of her appearance, as a member of the Bambara group of West Africa. Angelou comes to terms with her difficult past, both as a descendant of Africans taken forcibly to America as slaves and as an African-American who has experienced racism.

As she tells interviewer Connie Martinson , she brought her son to Ghana to protect him from the negative effects of racism because she did not think he had the tools to withstand them. Racism, an important theme in all of Angelou's autobiographies, continues to be important in this book, but she has matured in the way she deals with it in Traveling Shoes. For the first time in Angelou's life, she "does not feel threatened by racial hate" [38] in Ghana. She finds a strong support system there, and as Hagen states, she "has come far from the mute, shy little girl of Stamps, Arkansas".

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. by Brooke Cannon on Prezi

Angelou is taught an important lesson about combating racism by Malcolm X, who compares it to a mountain in which everyone's efforts, even the efforts of Shirley Graham DuBois , whom Angelou resents, is needed. Angelou learns lessons about herself and about racism throughout Traveling Shoes , even during her brief tour of Venice and Berlin for The Blacks revival. She revives her passion for African-American culture as she associates with other African-Americans for the first time since moving to Ghana.


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Angelou's first-hand experience with fascism, as well as the racist sensibilities of the German family she visits, "help shape and broaden her constantly changing vision" [59] regarding racial prejudice. But the truth is, you can never leave home. You can take on the affectations and the postures of other places and even learn to speak their ways.

But the truth is, home is between your teeth. The journey, or travel, is a common theme in American autobiography as a whole; as McPherson states, it is something of a national myth to Americans as a people. Like those narratives that focus on the writers' search for freedom from bondage, modern African-American autobiographers such as Angelou seek to develop "an authentic self" and the freedom to find it in their community. The travel motif is seen throughout Angelou's series of autobiographies, emphasizing what Lupton describes as Angelou's "continuing journey of the self".

Angelou was one of over two hundred Black American expatriates living in Accra at the time. Angelou soon discovers that her fellow Black expatriates "share similar delusions" [51] and that their feelings towards Ghana and its people are not reciprocated. Lupton states, "Angelou's alliance with the African-American community often focuses on their indignation over the Ghanaians' refusal to fully welcome them".

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Angelou's issues are resolved at the end of Traveling Shoes when she decides to leave Guy to continue his education in Accra and return to America. The final scene of the book is at the Accra airport , with Angelou surrounded by Guy and her friends as they wish her farewell. Even though she "forsakes her new embraced alliance with Mother Africa," [1] she claims she is "not sad" [69] to be leaving.

She calls her departure a "second leave-taking", [69] and compares it to the last time she left her son, with his grandmother in Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas when he was a child, and to the forced departure from Africa by her ancestors. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes was greeted with both praise and disappointment, [1] although reviews of the book were generally positive.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

The book's accuracy was verified by her close friend and fellow expatriate Julian Mayfield. Even though Traveling Shoes is Angelou's fifth book in her series of autobiographies, it is able to stand on its own. Other reviewers agree. Reviewer Janet A. Blundell found the book "absorbing reading", [76] and reviewer Jackie Gropman stated that the "prose sings". Scholar John C.