The Heart of a Woman (1981)
Like Gather Together in My Name, The Heart of a Woman opens with several paragraphs of historical reflection intended to locate the autobiographer in time and place. The book covers Maya's life from 1957 to 1962. At the beginning blacks and whites are enveloped in contradictions. The highly regarded tennis player, Althea Gibson, has become America's first black women's singles champion. In the same America, President Eisenhower dispatches federal troops to Arkansas, where black children and their parents are hoping to integrate the Little Rock school system.
In the more personal opening sequence of The Heart of a Woman, Angelou and her son Guy are living communally on a houseboat near San Francisco, trying to bridge the gap between black and white and living on the savings she has put away while singing in California and in Hawaii. Within a year, she and Guy move from the commune to a rented house near San Francisco and, finally, in 1959, they cross the continent to New York City.
In New York, Angelou, no longer satisfied with singing in nightclubs, dedicates herself to acting, writing, political organizing, and her son. She becomes involved with Martin Luther King's growing civil-rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), doing a significant fund-raiser for King and becoming a key organizer in his group. These activities make The Heart of a Woman the "most political segment of Angelou's autobiographical statement" ( Cudjoe 1990, 297).
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Maya Angelou:A Critical Companion. Contributors: Mary Jane Lupton - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 115.