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Nikki Giovanni

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Information about Nikki Giovanni

Profile image of Nikki Giovanni

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
What kind of sense does that make?

Birthplace

Born:
6/7/1943
Birth Location:
Knoxville, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
What kind of sense does that make?

Birthplace

Born:
6/7/1943
Birth Location:
Knoxville
See how Nikki Giovanni is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Award-winning poet, author, and civil rights activist, Nikki Giovanni, was born Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr,. on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A poet and spoken word artist, Giovanni entered Fisk University in 1960, where she edited the school's literary magazine and became involved in both the Writer's Workshop and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; she received her B.A. degree in 1967. Giovanni became active in the Black Arts Movement, organizing the Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati; during this period of her life, she developed strong and enduring friendships with fellow writers James Baldwin and Sonia Sanchez. Radicalized by the assassination of Malcolm X and the rise of the Black Panthers, Giovanni's poetry in the 1960s and 1970s became the voice of many African Americans. Later, Giovanni applied for and was accepted into the graduate program of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work; she also went on to study at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts.

In 1970, Giovanni founded her own publishing company, Niktom Limited. Throughout her career, Giovanni published more than fourteen volumes of poetry, including: Black Feeling Black Talk, Black Judgement, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, My House, The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni and Love Poems. She has also written and published books, including Racism 101 and Blues: For All the Changes. In 1987, Giovanni began working as a professor in the English department of Virginia Polytechnical Institute; there she taught writing, poetry, and literature, and was eventually named a distinguished professor.

Giovanni received many honors and awards for her work, including numerous honorary degrees; the NAACP Image Award for Literature in 1998 and 2000; and the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters in 1996. Giovanni was also named Woman of the Year by several magazines, including Mademoiselle, Essence and Ladies Home Journal. In 2008, Giovanni was commissioned by National Public Radio's program, All Things Considered, to pen an inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. A popular guest speaker, Giovanni was invited to read poetry at the Lincoln Memorial for the bicentennial celebration of Lincoln's birth in 2009.

Nikki Giovanni was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2003.

See how Nikki Giovanni is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Nikki Giovanni explains her how she got the nickname Nikki
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Nikki Giovanni interview: date and location
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her family's history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her father's family history and Italian surname
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni remembers her maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni describes her elderly cousin, Bea
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her relationship with her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her role as a niece, part 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Nikki Giovanni describes growing up with her father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her role as a niece, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nikki Giovanni describes her family members
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nikki Giovanni discusses memorable grammar school teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni describes her continued relationships with teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni discusses how her family influenced her as a poet
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni shares her philosophy on writing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni evaluates influential black figures
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nikki Giovanni remembers her adolescent social life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nikki Giovanni explains her decision to attend Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Nikki Giovanni recalls getting a coveted dorm assignment at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nikki Giovanni recalls participating in the Nashville sit-ins while attending Fisk University, 1960
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nikki Giovanni describes conflicts she had with the administration at Fisk University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nikki Giovanni remembers influential classmates from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her vocational choices
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her decision to leave Columbia University's MFA program
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni recalls her book party at Birdland for 'Black Judgment'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni discusses the gangster figure in the past and present
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nikki Giovanni discusses motherhood
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her son Thomas's educational decisions
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nikki Giovanni expresses her interest in grandchildren
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nikki Giovanni discusses life with her only child, son Thomas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni discusses being pregnant and unwed in 1969
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni considers the issues famous families face
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni describes her relationship with Queen Latifah
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni discusses highlights in her career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nikki Giovanni considers her commercial successes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nikki Giovanni describes her respect for hip-hop music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nikki Giovanni wants a Grammy Award for her album liner notes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nikki Giovanni considers rap's figurative dimension
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni considers how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni reflects on human existence
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni shares her reflections on life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni discusses the richness of the oral tradition
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sponsors of Nikki Giovanni interview
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Opening to 'An Evening With Nikki Giovanni'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Introduction of Nikki Giovanni with a performance of her poem, 'Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nikki Giovanni reminisces about having to babysit Pearl Cleage as a child in Detroit
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nikki Giovanni talks about the concept behind her poem 'Ego Tripping' and its longevity
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nikki Giovanni discusses her family background and childhood in Cincinnati
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Nikki Giovanni recalls her grandmother and her first experience picketing
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Nikki Giovanni's poem, 'Lady of Pleasure' performed by Andrea Mills
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Nikki Giovanni shares her experiences at Fisk University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Nikki Giovanni talks about getting her first poems published while at Fisk University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Nikki Giovanni recalls one of her first jobs as a social worker
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Nikki Giovanni's poems performed by Adriana Santiago and Charlotte Della Cain
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Nikki Giovanni talks about H. Rap Brown and modern rap musicians
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Nikki Giovanni discusses recording her poetry to music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Nikki Giovanni explains the concept of gender in her poetry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Nikki Giovanni's poem 'All Eyez on U (For 2Pac Shakur)' is performed
  • Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Nikki Giovanni talks about rapper Tupac Shakur and other current rap artists
  • Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Nikki Giovanni comments on what the future holds for Americans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Nikki Giovanni recites her poem, 'My House'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Closing credits to 'An Evening With Nikki Giovianni'