cover image All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

Maya Angelou. Random House (NY), $19.95 (210pp) ISBN 978-0-394-52143-5

To read Angelou's book, the latest in a series of autobiographical works begun with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, without being moved would seem impossible. Here, this American poet, actress, civil rights activist and TV producer-director recalls her pilgrimage to Ghana in the early 1960s. Ostensibly, Angelou went there so that her son could study at the University of Ghanato put him (and herself) in touch with long-imagined ancestral roots. Sadly, she was disillusioned by the subtle rejection of native Ghanaians. Fighting this painful sense of not belonging, she plunged into activities; appearing in Genet's play The Blacks with black American performers, she went briefly to Berlin, where she underwent a searing experience dining in the home of a wealthy crypto-Nazi German. Other encounters, even the more pleasurable ones, hardly mitigate the homesickness and hurt underlying Angelou's poignant recall, which includes a meeting with Malcolm X and her visit to a village where, centuries ago, black men sold other black men, women and children to white slave traders. First serial to Essence. (April 8)