65 pages 2 hours read

Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1981

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.


Social Context: The US Civil Rights Movement

The civil rights movement of the 1950s-1960s sought to address systemic racial prejudice in the United States, including segregation across public life, and focused on education, transport, and voter registration. In 1954, a protest by Black students at Moton High School in Virginia, supported by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), led to a legal case known as Brown v. the Board of Education, at the conclusion of which the US Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. Resistance remained high, and the struggle to desegregate public universities in the South carried on until 1962, when President John F. Kennedy sent US Army troops and federalized Mississippi National Guard forces onto the University of Mississippi campus to quell rioting, which broke out after the court of appeals upheld Black student and activist James Meredith’s right to enroll.

The huge public outcry in 1955 at the brutal murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy from Chicago, while he was staying with relatives in Mississippi, did much to galvanize the movement. In the same year, Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which resulted in the desegregation of Montgomery buses in 1956.