Giovanni, Nikki

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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 GiovanniandLove Poems. She has also written and published books, includingRacism 101andBlues: 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, includingMademoiselle,EssenceandLadies 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 byThe HistoryMakerson January 31, 2003.

From The HistoryMakers™ biography:

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Giovanni, Nikki. Love poems / Nikki Giovanni. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf James A. Emanuel Papers, 1922-1995, (bulk 1960-1995) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Papers of Julian Bond 1897-2006 University of Virginia. Small Special Collections Library
creatorOf Kennedy, Adrienne. Papers, ca. 1954-1992. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Giovanni, Nikki. Nikki Giovanni collection, 1971-1996. Boston University. School of Medicine
creatorOf Giovanni, Nikki. Miscellaneous papers. Jacksonville University, Carl S. Swisher Library
referencedIn Photograph of Nikki Giovanni, 1994. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976,. New jazz poets collection, 1962-1970. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Casteen, John Thomas. University of Virginia memorials from the Virginia Tech tragedy of April 16, 2007 [manuscript], 2007 University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Broadside Press. Broadside Press records, 1968-1999 (bulk, 1985-1996). University of Michigan
creatorOf Rogers, John Carr, d. 1979. Papers of John C. Rogers [manuscript], 1937-1973. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Beckham, Barry, 1944-. The Black Review [manuscript], 1971. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Cable 13 (Television station : Durham, N.C.). Cable 13 videotapes, 1976-1982. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981. Hoyt Fuller papers, 1940-1981. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Nikki Giovanni The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Bond, Julian, 1940- person
associatedWith Broadside Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Cable 13 (Television station : Durham, N.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Emanuel, James A. person
associatedWith Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Adrienne. person
associatedWith Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976, person
associatedWith Rogers, John Carr, d. 1979. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Knoxville (Tenn.)
Blacksburg (Va.)
Christiansburg (Va.)
American literature
American literature
American literature
African American poetry
Love poetry, American
African American women authors
Women authors, American


Birth 1943-06-07

Birth 19430607





Ark ID: w6fr04x6

SNAC ID: 2124107