Cover image for Gather together in my name
Gather together in my name
Angelou, Maya.
Personal Author:
Bantam trade edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 1997.

Physical Description:
217 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Reading Level:
800 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 8.0 100011.

Reading Counts RC High School 8.1 14 Quiz: 26351 Guided reading level: NR.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.97.A56 A29C Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



In Gather Together In My Name Maya Angelou continues her stunning autobiography. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, passionate and mellow, she fills the pages with both wisdom and wonder as she brings us along in her struggle and dance through life. a heroic and beautiful book. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer. This is the story of a great heroine who knows the meaning of a struggle and never loses her pride or dignity. Indeed, her story makes me proud of the human race. -- John Oliver Killens

Author Notes

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri. At the age of 16, she became not only the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco but the first woman conductor. In the mid-1950s, she toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. In 1957, she recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she became a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and played a queen in The Blacks, an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

In 1960, she moved to Cairo, where she edited The Arab Observer, an English-language weekly newspaper. The following year, she went to Ghana where she was features editor of The African Review and taught music and drama at the University of Ghana. In 1964, she moved back to the U.S. to become a civil rights activist by helping Malcolm X build his new coalition, the Organization of African American Unity, and became the northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Even though she never went to college, she taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. In 1993, she became only the second poet in United States history to write and recite an original poem at a Presidential Inauguration when she read On the Pulse of Morning at President Bill Clinton's Inauguration Ceremony. She wrote numerous books during her lifetime including: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, and Mom and Me and Mom. In 2011, President Barack Obama gave her the Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, for her collected works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

She appeared in the movie Roots and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1977 for her role in the movie. She also played a part in the movie, How to Make an American Quilt and wrote and produced Afro-Americans in the Arts, a PBS special for which she received a Golden Eagle Award. She was a three-time Grammy winner. She died on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The producer proclaims this to be the first unabridged recording of Angelou's autobiographical account, and it is long overdue. Her autobiography now encompasses five volumes, with Gather Together in My Name (1974) as the sequel to this monumental life's first chapter, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970). This second recollection covers the next four years of Maya/Retie's life as a single mother and her struggle for love, respect, and self-worth in post-World War II California and Arkansas. The dangers and conflicts that the adolescent parent often recklessly faces are reflective of both the times and her still unformed creative spirit. Gather breaks new ground in autobiographical form, and Angelou has said that she sees it as a vehicle to revisit the past: to recover through imagination and invention what has been lost. Narrator Lynne Thigpen is dead-on with a strong reading that captures the nuances and rhythms of the author's own voice. Recommended for most collections.‘Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



chapter??1 I was mortified. A silly white woman who probably counted on her toes looked me in the face and said I had not passed. The examination had been constructed by morons for idiots. Of course I breezed through without thinking much about it. rearrange these letters: ACT-ART-AST Okay. CAT. RAT. SAT. Now what? She stood behind her make-up and coiffed hair and manicured nails and dresser-drawers of scented angora sweaters and years of white ignorance and said that I had not passed. "The telephone company spends thousands of dollars training operators. We simply cannot risk employing anyone who made the marks you made. I'm sorry." She was sorry? I was stunned. In a stupor I considered that maybe my outsized intellectual conceit had led me to take the test for granted. And maybe I deserved this high-handed witch's remarks. "May I take it again?" That was painful to ask. "No, I'm sorry." If she said she was sorry one more time, I was going to take her by her sorry shoulders and shake a job out of her. "There is an opening, though"--she might have sensed my unspoken threat--"for a bus girl in the cafeteria." "What does a bus girl do?" I wasn't sure I could do it. "The boy in the kitchen will tell you." After I filled out forms and was found uninfected by a doctor, I reported to the cafeteria. There the boy, who was a grandfather, informed me, "Collect the dishes, wipe the tables, make sure the salt and pepper shakers are clean, and here's your uniform." The coarse white dress and apron had been starched with concrete and was too long. I stood at the side of the room, the dress hem scratching my calves, waiting for the tables to clear. Many of the trainee operators had been my classmates. Now they stood over laden tables waiting for me or one of the other dumb bus girls to remove the used dishes so that they could set down their trays. I lasted at the job a week, and so hated the salary that I spent it all the afternoon I quit. chapter??2 "Can you cook Creole?" I looked at the woman and gave her a lie as soft as melting butter. "Yes, of course. That's all I know how to cook." The Creole Café had a cardboard sign in the window which bragged: COOK WANTED. seventy-five dollars a week. As soon as I saw it I knew I could cook Creole, whatever that was. Desperation to find help must have blinded the proprietress to my age or perhaps it was the fact that I was nearly six feet and had an attitude which belied my seventeen years. She didn't question me about recipes and menus, but her long brown face did trail down in wrinkles, and doubt hung on the edges of her questions. "Can you start on Monday?" "I'll be glad to." "You know it's six days a week. We're closed on Sunday." "That's fine with me. I like to go to church on Sunday." It's awful to think that the devil gave me that lie, but it came unexpectedly and worked like dollar bills. Suspicion and doubt raced from her face, and she smiled. Her teeth were all the same size, a small white picket fence semicircled in her mouth. "Well, I know we're going to get along. You a good Christian. I like that. Yes, ma'am, I sure do." My need for a job caught and held the denial. "What time on Monday?" Bless the Lord! "You get here at five." Five in the morning. Those mean streets before the thugs had gone to sleep, pillowing on someone else's dreams. Before the streetcars began to rattle, their lighted insides like exclusive houses in the fog. Five! "All right, I'll be here at five, Monday morning." "You'll cook the dinners and put them on the steam table. You don't have to do short orders. I do that." Mrs. Dupree was a short plump woman of about fifty. Her hair was naturally straight and heavy. Probably Cajun Indian, African and white, and naturally, Negro. "And what's your name?" "Rita." Marguerite was too solemn, and Maya too rich-sounding. "Rita" sounded like dark flashing eyes, hot peppers and Creole evenings with strummed guitars. "Rita Johnson." "That's a right nice name." Then, like some people do to show their sense of familiarity, she immediately narrowed the name down. "I'll call you Reet. Okay?" Okay, of course. I had a job. Seventy-five dollars a week. So I was Reet. Reet, poteet and gone. All Reet. Now all I had to do was learn to cook. chapter??3 I asked old Papa Ford to teach me how to cook. He had been a grown man when the twentieth century was born, and left a large family of brothers and sisters in Terre Haute, Indiana (always called the East Coast), to find what the world had in store for a "good-looking colored boy with no education in his head, but a pile of larceny in his heart." He traveled with circuses "shoveling elephant shit." He then shot dice in freight trains and played koch in back rooms and shanties all over the Northern states. "I never went down to Hang'em High. Them crackers would have killed me. Pretty as I was, white women was always following me. The white boys never could stand a pretty nigger." By 1943, when I first saw him, his good looks were as delicate as an old man's memory, and disappointment rode his face bareback. His hands had gone. Those gambler's ?fingers had thickened during the Depression, and his only straight job, carpenting, had further toughened his "money-makers." Mother rescued him from a job as a sweeper in a pinochle parlor and brought him home to live with us. He sorted and counted the linen when the laundry truck picked it up and returned it, then grudgingly handed out fresh sheets to the roomers. He cooked massive and delicious dinners when Mother was busy, and he sat in the tall-ceilinged kitchen drinking coffee by the pots. Papa Ford loved my mother (as did nearly everyone) with a childlike devotion. He went so far as to control his profanity when she was around, knowing she couldn't abide cursing unless she was the curser. "Why the sheeit do you want to work in a goddam kitchen?" "Papa, the job pays seventy-five dollars a week." "Busting some goddam suds." Disgust wrinkled his face. "Papa, I'll be cooking and not washing dishes." "Colored women been cooking so long, thought you'd be tired of it by now." "If you'll just tell me--" "Got all that education. How come you don't get a goddam job where you can go to work looking like something?" I tried another tack. "I probably couldn't learn to cook Creole food, anyway. It's too complicated." "Sheeit. Ain't nothing but onions, green peppers and garlic. Put that in everything and you got Creole food. You know how to cook rice, don't you?" "Yes." I could cook it till each grain stood separately. "That's all, then. Them geechees can't live without swamp seed." He cackled at his joke, then recalled a frown. "Still don't like you working as a goddam cook. Get married, then you don't have to cook for nobody but your own family. Sheeit." Excerpted from Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.