65 pages 2 hours read

Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1981

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Index of Terms


“Crackers” is a pejorative term used to refer to white people in the Southern states of the USA. The origins of the word are unclear. It may derive from the Gaelic term “craic,” meaning loud conversation or boastful talk. It is perhaps also a reference to the cracking of whips by enslavers.


“Uhuru” is the Swahili word for “freedom.” In Chapter 3, Angelou describes her experience singing a song with this title, which she had learned from the Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, at the Apollo theater in Harlem.


The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists. The group sought to further the civil rights cause through non-violent activism, harnessing the moral authority and organizational capacities of Black churches. Maya Angelou became the Northern coordinator for the SCLC in 1959.