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June 7, 1943
Writer, poet, activist, educator
June 7, 1943 (age 79)
Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets, her works range from calls for Black power to poems for children and intimate personal statements.
“Bicycles”, “Black Judgement”, “Ego-Tripping”, “I Am Loved”, “Love Poems”, “Re: Creation”, “Spin a Soft Black Song”, “The Sun Is So Quiet”, “Those Who Ride the Night Winds”
Giovanni grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Knoxville, Tennessee, and in 1960 she entered Nashville’s Fisk University. By 1967, when she received a B.A., she had become firmly committed to the civil rights movement and the concept of Black power. From the late 1960s Giovanni was a popular reader of her own poetry, and her performances were issued on several recordings. She was a respected speaker as well, and she taught at various universities, including Virginia Tech. In 2007 that school was the site of a mass shooting.
In her first collections of poems, Giovanni's content was urgently revolutionary and suffused with deliberate interpretation of experience through a Black consciousness. Additionally, loneliness, thwarted hopes, and the theme of family affection became increasingly important in her poetry during the 1970s.
Giovanni has received numerous awards and accolades for her work including seven NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award and over twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the country. Oprah Winfrey named Giovanni one of her “25 Living Legends.”
“The world is not a pleasant place to be without someone to hold and be held by.”
“We love because it's the only true adventure.”
“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well.”
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