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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Aretha said "when my soul was in the lost and found/you came
along to claim it" and Joplin said "maybe"
there has been no musician whom her very presence hasn't
affected when Humphrey wanted her to campaign for him she said
"woeman's only hueman"



Books by Nikki Giovanni

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998  / Rosa  / Bicycle: Love Poems  / Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People

Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate  / Lincoln and Douglass On My Journey Now / Nikki Giovanni Bibliography

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Books by Mark Anthony Neal

What the Music Said / Soul Babies / Songs in the Keys of Black Life  / That’s the Joint  / New Black Man

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God-Parent of Hip Hop: Nikki Giovanni’s Truth is On the Way

By Mark Anthony Neal


Amiri Baraka once wrote that Black music, “to retain its freshness, its originality, its specific expression of its own history and contemporary reality in each generation creates a “new music.” This was yet another articulation of what Baraka once called the “changing same”—the thing that links Black expressive culture to a commitment to innovation, while remaining wedded to the traditions that birthed it. No one understood that better than Nikki Giovanni, when she went into the studio in 40 years ago to record Truth is On Its Way. At the time, Giovanni was one of the most visible and provocative poets of the Black Arts Movement—Baraka, Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez and the late Henry Dumas are some of the others.

The Black Arts Movement was premised on the idea of an art “for the people,” thus many of the movement’s artists sought to make an explicit connection to folk up on the boulevard (you can’t be on the boulevard if you don’t talk like you from the boulevard). For Giovanni though, it wasn’t just about the folk up in the club on Saturday night, but also the folk in the pews on Sunday morning.

I was five years old when my mother walked into the house with a copy of Truth is On Its Way. I’ve listened to the recording hundreds of times since then; indeed Giovanni’s cadences are incorporated in the rhythms of my own writing style. At the time I didn’t fully understand the genius of Giovanni’s vision—she was blatantly trying to bring the profane in conversation with the sacred, two decades before Kirk Franklin and later Kanye West would bring ghetto theodicy to the top of the pop charts. Truth is On Its Way features recordings of some of Giovanni’s signature poems, mashed over classic gospel recordings performed by the New York Community Choir (under the direction of Benny Diggs).

Truth is On Its Way opens with the classic “Peace Be Still,” written by the late Reverend James Cleveland. The song’s narrative is based on the idea of Jesus calming the sea during a storm (“the wind and the waves shall obey my will/ Peace be still!) and this was the perfect allegory perhaps for communities that were literally under siege during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Giovanni sought to make such a connection explicit as midway through the song she breaks into her poem “Great Pax Whitey” taking aim at American hegemony: “and America was born/where war became peace and genocide patriotism/and honor is a happy slave/cause all God’s ‘chillen’ need rhythm.”

On the track “Second Rapp Poem” Giovanni pays tribute to the “real talk” activism of H. Rap Brown (the now incarcerated Jamil Al-Amin): “they ain’t never gonna get Rapp/he’s a note, turned himself into a million songs/Listen to Aretha call his name.” And it was Ms. Franklin who inspired the album’s most poignant moment, via Giovanni’s “Poem for Aretha.” As the lead vocalist of the New York Community Choir mournfully sings “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” Giovanni gives praise to the woman who is, arguably, the most important and popular Black women artist ever. Written at the height of Franklin’s fame, Giovanni places Franklin within the context of great Black music (“pushed every Black singer into Blackness”) and the tragic lives of her artistic foremothers (“Aretha doesn’t have to re-live Billie Holiday’s life/doesn’t have to re-live Dinah Washington’s death”). The gravity of Giovanni’s poem is so clear forty-years later, as we witness the slow demise of Whitney Houston.

Though Gil-Scott Heron and The Last Poets are often credited as the “god-fathers” of hip-hop, Giovanni, who recorded five albums in the 1970s, doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her influence. It’s a track like “Ego Tripping,” the only track on Truth is On Its Way not backed by Gospel music (though no less spirtual), that one hears the impact that Giovanni had on the poetic sensibilities of the hip-hop generation—the song is the very essence of an old-school rap boast (“the filings from my finger nails are semi-precious jewels”). “Ego Tripping” was eventually featured in an episode of A Different World, performed by the women in the cast and remixed by Blackalicious on their disc Nia (2000). And it’s clear that hip-hop’s poet laureate Rakim Allah must have been thinking about Giovanni’s line “I turned myself into my self and was Jesus” when he wrote “My name is Rakim Allah / And R & A stands for 'Ra' / Switch it around / But still comes out 'R'" on his classic “My Melody.” It’s about time we give Nikki Giovanni her due as a god-parent of hip-hop.

Source: New Black Man

Mark Anthony Neal is the author of four books, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), Songs in the Keys of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (2003) and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity (2005). Neal is also the co-editor (with Murray Forman) of That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (2004). Neal is Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. A frequent commentator for National Public Radio Neal also contributes to several on-line media outlets, including, The and

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Poem for Aretha

                     By Nikki Giovanni

Cause nobody deals with Aretha—a mother with four children—
having to hit the road
they always say "after she comes
home" but nobody ever says what it's like
to get on a plane for a three week tour
the elation of the first couple of audiences the good
feeling of exchange the running on the high
you get from singing good
and loud and long telling the world
what's on your mind.

Then comes the eighth show on the sixth day the beginning
to smell like the plane or bus the if-you-forget-your-toothbrush
the strangers
pulling at you cause they love you but you having no love
to give back
the singing the same songs night after night day after day
and if you read the gossip columns the rumors that your husband
is only after your fame
the wondering if your children will be glad to see you and maybe
the not caring if they are scheming to get
out of just one show and go just one place where some doe-doe-dupaduke
won't say "just sing one song, please!".

Nobody mentions how it feels to become a freak
because you have talent and how
no one gives a damn how you feel
but only cares that Aretha Franklin is here like maybe that'll stop
chickens from frying
eggs from being laid
crackers from hating

and if you say you're lonely or tired how they always
just say "oh come off it" or "did you see
how they loved you did you see, huh, did you?"
which most likely has nothing to do with you anyway
and I'm not saying Aretha shouldn't have talent and I'm certainly
not saying she should quit
singing but as much as I love her I'd vote "yes" to her
doing four concerts a year and staying home or doing whatever
she wants and making records cause it's a shame
the way we're killing her.
We eat up artists like there's going to be a famine at the end
of those three minutes when there are in fact an abundance
of talents just waiting let's put some
of the giants away for a while and deal with them like they have
a life to lead.

Aretha doesn't have to relive Billi Holiday's life doesn't have
to relive Dinah Washington's death but who will
stop the pattern?

She's more important than her music—if they must be separated—
and they should be separated when she has to pass out before
anyone recognizes she needs
a rest and I say I need
Aretha's music
she is undoubtedly the one who put everyone on
She revived Johnny Ace and remembered Lil Green. Aretha
"I say a little prayer" and Dionne doesn't
want to hear it anymore
Aretha sings "money won't change you"
but James can't sing "respect" the advent
of Aretha pulled Ray Charles from marlboro country
and back into
the blues made Nancy Wilson
try one more time forced
Dionne to make a choice (she opted for the movies)
and Diana Ross had to get an afro wig pushed every
Black singer into his Blackness and negro entertainers
into negroness you couldn't jive
when she said "you make me feel" the Blazers
had to reply "gotta let a man be/a man"
Aretha said "when my soul was in the lost and found/you came
along to claim it" and Joplin said "maybe"
there has been no musician whom her very presence hasn't
affected when Humphrey wanted her to campaign for him she said
"woeman's only hueman"
and he pressured James Brown
they removed Otis cause the combination was too strong

the Impressions had to say "lord have mercy/we're moving on up"
the Black songs started coming from the singers on stage and the dancers
in the streets
Aretha was the riot was the leader if she had said "come
let's do it" it would have been done
temptations say why don't we think about it
why don't we think about it
why don't we think about it

from Women Working: An Anthology of Stories and Poems

(The Feminist Press, Old Westbury, New York)

Source: Get to the Iinside

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Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

                            By Nikki Giovanni

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
   the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
   that only glows every one hundred years falls
   into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
   drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
   to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
   the tears from my birth pains
   created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
   out the sahara desert
   with a packet of goat's meat
   and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
   so swift you can't catch me

   For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
   He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
   as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
   men intone my loving name
   All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
   the filings from my fingernails are
   semi-precious jewels
   On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
   the earth as I went
   The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
   across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
   like a bird in the sky . . .


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Nikki Giovanni’s Chant-Poem

We Are Virginia Tech
We are sad today
and we will be sad for quite a while
… we are Not moving on
We are embracing our mourning
We are Virginia Tech

We are strong enough
to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough
to bend to cry
And sad enough
to know we must laugh again
We are Virginia Tech

We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it
But neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS
Neither do the invisible children walking the night away
to avoid being captured by a rogue army
Neither does the baby elephant
watching his community be devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water
Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night
in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands
being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized
NO one deserves a tragedy
We … are Virginia Tech

The Hokie Nation embraces our own
and reaches out with open hearts and hands
to those who offer their hearts and minds
We are strong
and brave
and innocent
and unafraid
We are better than we think, and
not quite what we want to be
We are alive
to the imagination and the possibilities

We will continue to invent the future
through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness,
We are The Hokies!

We will …prevail!
We will prevail
We will prevail
We ARE… Virginia Tech.

(Transcribed from rough audio by cpe: any errors are mine and not Dr. Giovanni’s. Line breaks, capitalization, and punctuation therein are only speculative.)

Source: Moderate Voice

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Peace Be Still"“Great Pax Whitey”  /  We Are Virginia Tech!  / Ego Tripping  / I Am in the Water

Let America Be America Again  / "Nikki-Rosa" Nikki Giovanni (Def Poetry)  / Talk To Me Poem

Tribute to Poet Nikki Giovanni  / Hip Hop Speaks to Children  / Condoleezza Rice

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The Great Pax Whitie

                                     By Nikki Giovanni


In the beginning was the word

And the word was


And the word was nigger

And the word was death to all niggers   

And the word was death to all life   

And the word was death to all

   peace be still


The genesis was life   

The genesis was death   

In the genesis of death   

Was the genesis of war

   be still peace be still


In the name of peace   

They waged the wars   

   ain’t they got no shame


In the name of peace

Lot’s wife is now a product of the Morton company   

   nah, they ain’t got no shame


Noah packing his wife and kiddies up for a holiday   

row row row your boat

But why’d you leave the unicorns, noah

Huh? why’d you leave them

While our Black Madonna stood there

Eighteen feet high holding Him in her arms   

Listening to the rumblings of peace

    be still be still



He wanted to know

And peter only asked who is that dude?

Who is that Black dude?

Looks like a troublemaker to me

And the foundations of the mighty mighty         

Ro Man Cat holic church were laid


   hallelujah Jesus

   nah, they ain’t got no shame


Cause they killed the Carthaginians   

in the great appian way

And they killed the Moors

“to civilize a nation”

And they just killed the earth

And blew out the sun

In the name of a god

Whose genesis was white

And war wooed god

And america was born

Where war became peace

And genocide patriotism

And honor is a happy slave

cause all god’s chillun need rhythm

And glory hallelujah why can’t peace

   be still


The great emancipator was a bigot   

   ain’t they got no shame

And making the world safe for democracy

Were twenty millon slaves

   nah, they ain’t got no shame


And they barbecued six million

To raise the price of beef

And crossed the 38th parallel

To control the price of rice

   ain’t we never gonna see the light


And champagne was shipped out of the East   

While kosher pork was introduced

To Africa

   Only the torch can show the way


In the beginning was the deed   

And the deed was death


And the honkies are getting confused   

   peace be still


So the great white prince

Was shot like a nigger in texas

And our Black shining prince was murdered   

like that thug in his cathedral

While our nigger in memphis

was shot like their prince in dallas

And my lord

ain’t we never gonna see the light

The rumblings of this peace must be stilled   

   be stilled be still


ahh Black people   

ain’t we got no pride?


Nikki Giovanni, “The Great Pax Whitie” from Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment. Copyright © 1968, 1970 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998

Peace Be Still/Great Pax Whitey (video)

Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment is one of the single most important volumes of modern African-American poetry. This book, electrifying generations with its revolutionary phrases and inspiring them with such Nikki Giovanni masterpieces as the lyrical "Nikki-Rosa" and the intimate "Knoxville, Tennessee," is the seminal volume of Nikki Giovanni's body of work. Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment made Nikki Giovanni famous in 1968, and this reissue of her classic will enthrall those who have always adored her poems--and those who are just getting to know her work.

As a witness to three generations, Nikki Giovanni has perceptively and poetically recorded her observations of both the outside world and the gentle yet enigmatic territory of the self. When her poems first emerged from the Black Rights Movement in the late 1960s, she immediately became a celebrated and controversial poet of the era. Written in one of the most commanding voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape at the end of the twentieth century, Nikki Giovanni's poems embody the fearless passion and spirited wit for which she is beloved and revered.

*   *   *   *   *


Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni (born June 7, 1943) is a Grammy-nominated American poet, activist and author. Giovanni is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech.

Giovanni gave birth to Thomas Watson Giovanni, her only child, on August 31, 1969, while visiting Cincinnati, Ohio for Labor Day Weekend. She later stated that she had a child out of wedlock at twenty-five because she "wanted to have a baby and she could afford to have a baby" and because of her conviction that marriage as an institution was inhospitable to women and would never play a role in her life.After her son's birth, Giovanni rearranged her priorities around him and has stated that she would give her life for him. "I just can't imagine living without him. But I can live without the revolution, without world socialism, women's lib...I have a child. My responsibilities have changed."

Both Giovanni's mother and sister died of lung cancer and in 1995 Giovanni herself was diagnosed with the disease. She had surgery at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio  and eventually had a lung removed. Giovanni gave up smoking after she was diagnosed, saying in 1996 that she now smokes in her dreams. She also denies that her cancer has made her a better person, adding that "[I]f it takes a near-death experience for you to appreciate your life, you're wasting somebody's time." In 1999, Giovanni said she would like to negotiate a truce with her cancer, stating that she'd "like an agreement that we will live together for another 30 years." In 2005 Giovanni contributed an introduction to the book Breaking the Silence: Inspirational Stories of Black Cancer Survivors. Wikipedia

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Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her sister spent their summers with their grandparents in Knoxville, and she graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather's alma mater, in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends."

Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Acolytes, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her children's picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book, and Bryan Collier, the illustrator, was given the Coretta Scott King award for best illustration. Rosa also reached #3 on The New York Times Bestseller list. Shortly after its release, Bicycles: Love Poems reached #1 on for Poetry.Nikki Giovanni Bio

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Nikki Giovanni Timeline


Borrows money to publish her first volume of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk. Drops out of University of Pennsylvania but continues working at the Settlement House. Continues writing poems at a prodigious rate. Goes to Atlanta for funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on 4 April. Receives grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Moves to New York City where she begins almost immediately to attract attention. Enrolls in an M. F. A. program at Columbia University’s School of Fine Arts. At the very end of the year, uses money made from sales of Black Feeling Black Talk and a grant from the Harlem Arts Council to privately publish her second volume of poetry, Black Judgement; Broadside Press offers to distribute it.


Teaches at Queens College. Has a Sunday afternoon book party (to promote Black Judgement) at the old Birdland jazz club, which attracts hundreds of people and makes the next day’s metro section of The New York Times. Receives increasing attention from the media and begins receiving invitations to read and speak. In April, The New York Times features her in an article entitled "Renaissance in Black Poetry Expresses Anger." The Amsterdam News names her one of the ten "most admired black women." Regularly publishes book reviews in Negro Digest. Travels to Cincinnati in August for Labor Day weekend and gives birth to Thomas Watson Giovanni, her only child. Returns to New York and begins teaching at Livingston College of Rutgers University; frequently makes the commute with the struggling writer, Toni Cade Bambara (1939-95).


Edits and privately publishes Night Comes Softly, one of the earliest anthologies of poetry by black women; it includes poems by new and relatively unknown writers as well as poems by such established poets as Margaret Walker and Mari Evans. Establishes NikTom, Ltd. Meets Ellis Haizlip (1929-91) and begins making regular appearances on his television program, Soul!, an entertainment/variety/talk show which promoted black art and culture and allowed political expression. (During the history of the show–1967-72–which aired on WNET, many important artists and leaders made appearances, including Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Gladys Knight, Miriam Makeba, and Stevie Wonder. Giovanni was for several years a "regular" on the show.) Giovanni publishes Black Feeling Black Talk/Black Judgement as one volume with William Morrow Publisher. Publishes Re: Creation with Broadside Press. Writes and publishes the broadside, "Poem of Angela Yvonne Davis." Has become a recognized figure on the black literary scene; in the anthology We Speak As Liberators, published in this year, she is referred to as an "established name." Ebony magazine names her Woman of the Year.


Publishes autobiography, Gemini, and poems for children, Spin A Soft Black Song. Black Feeling Black Talk/Black Judgement comes out in paperback. Records Truth Is On Its Way with the New York Community Choir. Performs with the choir in a concert to introduce the album at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem before a crowd of 1,500. Continues regular appearances on Soul!, including an appearance in January with Lena Horne. The Mugar Memorial Library of Boston University approaches her about housing her papers and she accepts; today the Mugar has all of her papers and memorabilia. Contact magazine names her Best Poet in its annual awards. Mademoiselle magazine names her Woman of the Year. Travels to Africa. Truth is a phenomenal success, selling more than 100,000 copies in its first six months. Travels to London to tape special segments of Soul! with James Baldwin; these segments air on 15 and 22 December. Falls ill from exhaustion after returning to the United States.


Publishes My House. Joins National Council of Negro Women. Receives an honorary doctorate from Wilberforce University, becoming the youngest person so honored by the nation’s oldest black college. Truth Is On Its Way receives N.A.T.R.A.’s (National Association of Television and Radio Announcers) Award for Best Spoken Word Album. Receives widespread attention from print media, including such publications as Jet, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and Ebony. Appears frequently on Soul! and makes a guest appearance on the Tonight show. Plays an active role in a new publication undertaken by her friend, Ida Lewis, Encore, later renamed Encore American & Worldwide News, a black news magazine. Until 1980, Giovanni acts as consultant and contributes a regular column for the magazine and also helps finance it. Puts on a free Father’s Day concert with La Belle at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem. Performs at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center with the New York Community Choir and La Belle. Receives key to Lincoln Heights, Ohio. Reads at the Paul Laurence Dunbar Centennial in Dayton, Ohio, where she and Paula Giddings, then an editor at Howard University Press, conceive the idea of a book composed of a conversation between Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1915-98). Travels to Walker’s home in Jackson, Mississippi, in November to begin the tapings. Nikki Giovanni Timeline

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This biography was prepared by Effy Bergstein, Summer 2008.

On June of 1967, the young writer planned and supervised the first Cincinnati Black Arts Festival, in hopes that it would spread awareness of arts and culture within the Black community. She also organized Cincinnati’s black theatrical group, known today as The New Theatre, while simultaneously providing social service at the People’s Settlement House in Wilmington, Delaware.  The young activist was taking leaps towards social evolution, but she could not count on her social work to pay the bills. At the advice of her mother, and with the help of a Ford Foundation Grant, Giovanni began her graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work during 1967 and 1968. Giovanni was now an activist as well as a full time student, but the notorious multi-tasker was also a writer, and penned her first two books while heavily diving into all three roles.

In The African-American Review, Mozella G. Mitchell reflected on Giovanni’s ability to multi-task as a metaphor for her writing, “Giovanni seems to be both detached from and involved with life. As to living and writing, she has always been involved in some project or movement, while at the same time reflecting on immediate experiences.” Never one to be typecast, Giovanni’s life is a balancing act as a social advocate of change as well as a story teller.

Mitchell went on to say that “such a dual active and contemplative and creative role” is what “characterizes her entire life.” All great writers are detailed observers of the human condition, but Giovanni is not one to live vicariously through anyone. . . .

Giovanni’s internal dialogue on the African-American identity was now public information, fair game to praise as well as criticism. Praised in the Black Writers of America anthology, Giovanni was mentioned as one of few contemporary black writers to have made a “constructively emotional impact on the collective racial ego of black America.”

But the poet’s radical political opinions did not please everybody. Fowler wrote that “Giovanni enters the dialogue of the 1960s about black identity with rage against white America that was largely responsible for earning her the label of ‘revolutionary poet.’”

This label, though softened with time, was given to the author early on in her career. In a 1969 New York Times article entitled “Renaissance in Black Poetry Expresses Anger,” author Thomas A. Johnson felt the invigorated renaissance in black poetry was being taken too far:

While the new black renaissance in poetry is fairly recent, the ‘black is beautiful’ theme and black militancy can be found in the Negro poetry of many years ago. Miss Giovanni talked recently of the wide interest among Negroes in poetry. Her basically angry anthology also questions the current relevance of her art in the poem ‘For Saundra,” when she writes “Maybe I shouldn’t write at all, but clean my gun, and check by kerosene supply. Perhaps these are not poetic times at all.” PA Book

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The Nikki Giovanni Collection

The Mugar Memorial Library of Boston University

Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center

The Nikki Giovanni collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, subject files, printed material, professional material, personal memorabilia, audio, video, and artwork. 

The collection includes drafts of several hundred poems by Giovanni, dating from the late 1960s to the 2000s.  These are often photocopies, carbons, computer printouts, or galley proofs; many items have been corrected by hand.  Also present are manuscripts for collections of Giovanni’s poems, as well as other works.

Other manuscripts by Giovanni in the collection include drafts of some short fiction; book reviews, newspaper columns, and other non-fiction articles by Giovanni, for Negro Digest, Mademoiselle, Saturday Review, Viva, Brothers and Sisters, and other publication;  pieces written for a column called “The Root of the Matter”; contributions and forwards for various books; contributions to collected works of essays and poetry; interviews with various individuals, including James Baldwin (for SOUL!), Prof. James MacGregor of Williams College, Gladys Knight, and Zhenya Yevtushenko (for Encore); and early writings by Giovanni, such as high school papers and other schoolwork from 1958-1960 and writings from Giovanni’s time at Fisk University in the 1960s (including a number of poems).  Other juvenilia includes short writings and drawings by Giovanni,  school records, report cards, yearbooks from the 1950s, and other material. . .  .

Correspondence in the collection is extensive, dating primarily from 1970-2007, with some dating back to 1964.  Much of the correspondence, especially the later letters, consists of fan mail to Giovanni from various readers.  Notable correspondents include Arthur Ashe, James Baldwin, Barry Beckham, Ray Blanton (Governor of Tennessee), Julian Bond, Gwendolyn Brooks, H. Rap Brown, Shirley Chisholm, Bill Clinton, Jackie Early, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Leslie Fiedler, Roberta Flack, Katharine Graham, Alex Haley, William Randolph Heart III, John O. Killens, Jerzy Kosinski, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Lindsay Patterson, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Rangel (Congressman from New York).

There are numerous photographs in the collection.  Most of the photos include images of Giovanni, randing from professional portraits to informal snapshots.  Also present are many photos of Giovanni’s friends and family.  Images of others include Julian Bond, H. Rap Brown, and Lena Horne.  Also present are several photos of Africa, including Giovanni’s program at Enugu, Nigeria in 1973. . . .

Audio recordings in the collection include various recordings of Giovanni reading poetry and giving talks. . . . Video recordings in the collection consist almost totally of VHS video tapes, with some Beta tapes included as well.  The tapes include Giovanni appearing on various television programs aired on CNN, BET and other channels; and Giovanni giving readings, talks, and interviews at universities and cities around the country, from the 1980s to about 2000. Artwork in the collection mainly consists of sketches and paintings representing Giovanni.  Also present are prints by various artists, as well as other miscellaneous works.
Boston University Archives

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June 2010 Blackademics Interview: Mark Anthony Neal

This Black Music Month our interview is with professor and public intellectual Dr. Mark Anthony Neal. We discuss the role of the public intellectual, Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks and Dr. Neal’s contribution to Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic. Enjoy!

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Ghost Blues by Cornelius Eady / Guarding the Flame of Life 

New Orleans Jazz Funeral for tuba player Kerwin James / They danced atop his casket Jaran 'Julio' Green

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Dear Friends, last evening Mr. Obama gave Newt Gingrich a lesson in how one throws red meat to the mob. See below.
You may note the construction of his Address: it begins and ends with US militaristic bravado. Speaking of flipping the script, the murdered becomes the murderer and the murderer the hero who knows how to complete his mission with a trillion-dollar budget.
Who can tolerate in any good conscience this kind of chest-beating? America is Back? A large wealthy nation with a military more powerful than China, Russia, UK, China and a dozen other nations put together and Mr. Obama has the damn gall to boast of battering and disrupting and decimating fourth and fifth rate nations. Yet those peoples have the courage and fortitude to bog down a great nation for over a decade.
Back? Poverty growing in black communities by leaps and bounds, wealth continuing to rush upward on Wall Street! What a vacuous and arrogant boast! What outrageous theatrical superficiality!
And we think we are getting a bargain when the nation's wealth is ripped from the nation's poor and transferred into the hands of greedy elites or dropped as deadly bombs on the weak and impoverished! And we eat up as if we have been given cake!
To paraphrase Nikki Giovanni, "Do we have any shame?" Peace Be Still!Rudy (25 January 2012)

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Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address—24 January 2012—We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.  For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.  For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.  Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.  The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home. . . . As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli.  A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictatorsa murderer with American blood on his hands.  Today, he is gone.  And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied. 

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain.  But we have a huge stake in the outcome.  And while it’s ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well.  We will stand against violence and intimidation.  We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beingsmen and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews.  We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests.  Look at Iran.  Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one.  The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.

Let there be no doubt:  America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations. The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe.  Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever.  Our ties to the Americas are deeper.  Our ironclad commitmentand I mean ironcladto Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.

We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope.  From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back. . . .

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden.  On it are each of their names.  Some may be Democrats.  Some may be Republicans.  But that doesn’t matter.  Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gatesa man who was George Bush’s defense secretaryand Hillary Clintona woman who ran against me for president.  All that mattered that day was the mission.Whitehouse

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Obama renews anti-Iran war rhetoric—25 January 2012—US President Barack Obama has once again renewed threats against Iran, saying that Washington will maintain pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program. On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed into law fresh economic sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution. The bill requires foreign financial firms to make a choice between doing business with the CBI and oil sector or with the US financial sector.The US sanctions, as well as unilateral embargoes imposed on Iran's energy and financial sectors by Britain and Canada, came after the IAEA issued a report on the Iranian nuclear program in early November 2011, accusing Tehran of seeking to weaponize its nuclear technology.—PressTV

Ralph Nader Reviews Obama's State of the Union Speech

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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