Why is Nikki Giovanni such an important person in history?Or what makes her so special to history?

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James Kelley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I think of Nikki Giovanni, I first think of her free-verse poems from the period of African American literature called the Black Arts Era (or sometimes the Black Arts Movement), such as "Beautiful Black Men." Her poems often capture the spirit of that era for me, with their celebration of black beauty and black vernacular as well as their direct treatment of social problems facing many African Americans in the 1960s. Because of more recent events, though, I have another association with her name. She was the instructor in a Creative Writing course that was taken by the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho and was among a number of people at that university who were interviewed on television about the person and his actions.


mkcapen1 | Student

The Nikki Giovanni that I am aware of is an award winning poet and a person who has dedicated many years of her life in pursuit of civil rights.  She has been hailed and criticized for her outspokenness.  She presents the truth as she sees it and is one of the most read of American poets.  She is also considered to be a strong voice for the black community.  She has received many awards including Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, an award from NAACP, and Governor’s awards from Tennessee and Virginia.  However, these are only a few of her many recognitions.  She has even had a species of bat named after her by a scientist her values her work.  As an African American female, mother, professor she has worked hard to represent herself as a voice for her culture and to help others through her words and poetry. 

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