Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

Arts and Letters, Rosa Parks Women’s Courage Award

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There are many civil rights activists in the world. However, Nikki Giovanni stands alone because of her extraordinary works and great awards. She was very important to your society. As I read and watched different videos on Nikki Giovanni, I find out she also had breast cancer got cured with an amputation. Yolande Cornelia 'Nikki' Giovanni, Jr know as Nikki Giovanni is a writer commentator, activist, educator and American poet Nikki Giovanni was born on June 7,1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Nikki Giovanni was the youngest of two daughters of a close-knit family. Nikki and her sister grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio but came every summer to see their grandparents in Knoxville. Nikki graduated from Fisk University with honors in history coming from her grandfather's alma mater. She has been a University Distinguished Professor since 1987 at Virginia Tech.

In 1968, she published her first book of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk. Nikki attended man different schools such as Oak Avenue School, St.Simon’s School, Lockland High School, and Austin High School. Nikki's grandfather taught at Austin High School teaching Latin.(Nikki) In March of 1962 John Brown Watson dies which was her grandfather and she has to drive her mother and nephew to Knoxville to the funeral.Nikki Giovanni also attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University in New York She also attended Martin Luther King Jr funeral in Atlanta when he was assassinated on April 4th. Giovanni taught at Queens College in 1969, she also has a book party that promote Black Judgements. Giovanni's writing was so flowery which means you can read her writing.(Ratner)

Nikki Giovanni was important because she was a prominent poet and writer in the 1960’s. She was also known for publishing Black Arts in the late 1960’s. Around the 1970’s, is when Nikki Giovanni start publishing her volumes of poetry. In 1967, Giovanni established her Cincinnati's first Black Arts Festival. She also published her first book of poems which were Black Feeling, Black Talk in 1968. In 1968, she also wrote Black Judgment. She wrote different poems for different reasons such as she wrote one poem about being a lung cancer survivor. Nikki wrote many children books and poetry collections around different times.(Cornish) She won numerous awards for her writing. Nikki also gave a chant poem at the memorial for the shooting victims for the Virginia Tech shooting. Nikki first three volumes of poetry were very effective and helped to answer questions for solidarity and many more things. She received many awards which were Caldecott Honors Award,Grammy Award American Book Award and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.(Giovanni).

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The book she published in 1997 Love Poem, she wrote the book for many numerous reason.(Nikki Giovanni).One reason was to show memory to Tupac Shakur, she made a statement saying “rather be with the thugs than the people who are complaining about them” Nikki made different quotes pertaining to different situations,one pertaining to the 1998 murders of James Byrd Jr and Matthew Shepard, she stated”what’s the difference dragging a black men behind a truck in Jasper, Texas and beating a white boy to death in Wyoming because he’s gay?’(Cornish).

Nikki Giovanni has been writing since she was in college which has been 30 years. She started writing at the age of 17 and she has been writing since then(Giovanni).In 1969, many things happen to Nikki Giovanni such as she gave birth to her son, Thomas. Also that year she took a teaching position at Rutgers University. She published some of her volumes for young readers. Some of the volumes were Spin a Soft Black Song(1971), Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People(1973) and Vacation Time(1980). Giovanni wrote children books, one which was named Rosa in 2005 that was awarded a Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration. Her other books that were writing for children were Knoxville,Tennessee(1994), The Sun Is So Quiet(1996) and Lincoln and Douglass:An American Friendship(2008).

Doing such a great job with her work, she received countless awards, which included the National Council of Negro Women, the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers, seven NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award. Nikki was promoted in articles for magazines such as Ebony, Jet and Harper’s Bazaar. As visiting Africa and Europe, she wrote many more books such as My House(1972), Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day(1978) and Those Who Ride the Night WInds(1983). The book Those Who Ride the Night Winds was a book reflected the political activism of her early work that she dedicated to Phillis Wheatley, Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks. Nikki wrote a book about Racism which was titled Racism 101(1994)In 1999,after battling lung cancer, Nikki published a book titled For All The Changes(Giovanni poetry).

Nikki Giovanni wrote many different poems for many different reasons. In her poem Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, Nikki minimize her problems by saying in a metaphor way such as saying her broken nails and foot corn may be the reason behind her struggles. Nikki described herself as “more difficult to hold” or uneasy to want. Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day was a poem wrote to explain the loneliness that black women could have experienced on a daily basis due the pressure of being in a country that did not understand black women. They would tell them that African beauty is inferior to European beauty. Young black women asked “what this decade will be known for...There is no doubt...it is loneliness(Collected 227).”Ego Tripping was written to describe Nikki going on a trip across the continent on Africa. Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate written in 1996 was a collection of works composed by Black writers during the Harlem Renaissance. Giovanni's work was very unspoken and brought people eyes to her work.

Her poem Knoxville, Tennessee was a very easy going poem that just talked about the pleasures of the summer season in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sometimes she describes it as eating fresh produce and absorbing its life-giving energy. Love Poems(1997) find that the writer were musing on subjects as diverse as friendship,sexual desire motherhood and loneliness. Racism 101, takes stock of Giovanni’s experiences of the civil rights movement. Poem of a Lady Whose Voice I Like was written to challenge racism and sexism Black women faced.

Nikki Giovanni has turned her volume of intensity down in her poetry. Giovanni’s topics were about family and love, to loneliness and frustration but with softer tone. Nikki Giovanni was an impact on society by telling people she was an small woman with a big voice and she wants everyone to receive the truth. She was also known as the “voice of the people” because she could see herself in each person and this society can too. Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Andre Lorde, June Jordan and Nikki Giovanni were all important and influential artists. She was inspired to write to fascinated people(Giovanni). Her grandmother inspired her to appreciate African American culture.

Nikki gave birth to her unborn son when she worked as a teacher at Rutgers University. She battled with lung cancer in 1999 in five years. She faced work with diaspora issues. When she was in Tennessee ,she worked with children’s. She wrote her poems based on her childhood and feeling she had on Black history and other issues to Black childrens. In the 1970’s and 1980’s she focused on her speaking on the success on her poets she wrote starting as a young child. Traveling was one thing she loved because of the world view on the periods of work. The was involved in the civil rights movement.(Giovanni Poetry) Nikki Giovanni is now 75 years old and is still known for her public speaking and writing poems. Her latest work entitled”A Good Cry”. This collection is a close look at past,present, and future from memories of her grandparents. She currently resides in Virginia where she loves listening to jazz.

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