Monday, February 11, 2008

Notable African Americans

Nikki Giovanni (1943 - present)

As an African American woman, Nikki Giovanni has written many revolutionary poems reflecting on the culture and heritage of her race. Spending much of her youth growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Giovanni’s childhood has greatly influenced her writing. Nikki Giovanni, (Yolande Cornelia Giovanni is her given name) was born June 7, 1943 in Knoxville Tennessee. As a child, she attended an Episcopal school, and when it came time for her to start college, she enrolled at Fisk University. As a freshman, Giovanni was a very rebellious student, ignoring many of the school’s social rules. This attitude led her to suspension from the university before her first year was even completed. However, in 1964 she returned to Fisk, and her writing career began.

Giovanni was an active participant in many groups on campus that dealt with racial issues. This led her to write many articles for the schools magazine, Elan, and also got her involved in a great Writing Workshop. Giovanni was able to graduate from Fisk University in 1967 with a degree in history.

Shortly after she graduated, Giovanni set up her own publishing company and published her very first collection of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk. Since then Giovanni has written many powerful poems and collections, as well as a few albums of her poems recorded to gospel music.

One of these recorded albums, “Truth is on its way”, was chosen Best Spoken Album by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers in 1972. Mademoiselle also crowned Giovanni as Woman of the Year, and groups such as Psi Phi fraternity and PUSH have honored her for her wonderful work.

One of her most well-known poems, titled “Nikki-Rosa”, was inspired by her childhood. This poems examines the relationship between love and wealth, reflecting on how much love Giovanni was surrounded by as a child, despite her poverty. Another significant poem in Giovanni’s career is “Black Feeling, Black Talk”. In this poem Giovanni takes on a revolutionary perspective, promoting violence and illustrating the identity of her race.

Along with inspiration from black family culture, and racial issues, many of Nikki Giovanni’s poems showcase her strong faith in God, as well as womanhood. Blues music and rhythm are also key components of many of Giovanni’s pieces.

Giovanni is a remarkable poet who has written many valuable collections of poetry. As an African-American, her race, as well as her childhood and her womanhood, inspire much of her work. Giovanni has received many awards, and has been honored many times for her pieces. During her long career, she truly has contributed much to the world of poetry.