All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes Critical Essays

Maya Angelou

Masterplots II: African American Literature All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes Analysis

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

On January 20, 1993, Maya Angelou became only the second poet to read at a U.S. presidential inauguration (Robert Frost was the first). She read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s swearing-in ceremony; three of the poem’s stanzas suggest some of the themes and meanings of All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes:

Lift up your eyes uponThe day breaking for you.Give birth againTo the dream.Women, children, men,Take it into the palms of your hands.Mold it into the shape of your mostPrivate need. Sculpt it intoThe image of your most public self.Lift up your heartsEach new hour holds new chancesFor new beginnings.Do not be wedded foreverTo fear, yoked eternallyTo brutishness.

These words suggest the impetus for Angelou’s journey to Africa, for her quest to don traveling shoes that will help her search out a place to call home. Believing that she must be an active traveler, a person seizing the day and “new chances for new beginnings,” she boldly sets out for Ghana. She undertakes the journey fearlessly, not “yoked eternally” to any kind of brutishness that might deter her.

Every step of the journey reveals this fearlessness. As she begins her sojourn in Ghana, Angelou sees the future as “plump with promise,” despite the fact that she has no job and no house...

(The entire section is 752 words.)