Nikki Giovanni

World-renowned poet, writer, educator, activist and thought leader on black social commentary.

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Poet Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943. Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she and her sister returned to Knoxville each summer to visit their grandparents. Nikki graduated with honors in history from her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University in 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor. Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civi

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  • Awards and Honors

    • Keys to more than two dozen American cities, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Orleans
    • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (Honorary Member)
    • Seven NAACP Image Awards: for Love Poems; Blues: For All the Changes; Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea; Acolytes; Hip Hop Speaks to Children; 100 Best African American Poems; Bicycles
    • Life Membership & Scroll, The National Council of Negro Women
    • Named one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Living Legends
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • State Historical markers in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Lincoln Heights, Ohio
    • The Tennessee Governor’s Award in the Arts
    • Tennessee Governor’s Award In the Humanities
    • Virginia Governor’s Award for the Arts
    • Woman of the Year, Ebony Magazine
    • Woman of the Year, Ladies Home Journal
    • Woman of the Year, Mademoiselle Magazine
    • The Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award, first recipient
    • American Book Award
    • Caldecott Honor Book Award
    • Carl Sandburg Literary Award
    • Moonbeam Children’s Book Award
    • Tennessee Writer’s Award, The Nashville Banner
    • The Appalachian Medallion Award
    • The East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame Award
    • The Gwendolyn Brooks Award
    • The Gwendolyn Brooks/John O. Killens Award
    • The Langston Hughes Award
    • ALC Lifetime Achievement Award
    • Art Sanctuary’s Lifetime Achievement Award
    • Artist-in-Residence. The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts
    • Distinguished Visiting Professor, Johnson & Wales University
    • Duncanson Artist in Residence, The Taft Museum
    • Poet-In-Residence, Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
    • The Cecil H. and Ida Green Honors Chair, Texas Christian University
    • The Hill Visiting Professor, University of Minnesota
    • Sankofa Freedom Award
    • The Legacy Award, National Alumni Council United Negro College Fund
    • The Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame
    • 2000 Council of Ideas, The Gihon Foundation
    • A species of bat named in her honor (Micronycteris giovanniae)
    • Affrilachian Award
    • American Library Association’s Black Caucus Award for Non-fiction
    • Ann Fralin Award
    • Child Magazine Best Children’s Book of the Year
    • Cincinnati Bi-Centennial Honoree
    • Excellence in Leadership Award from Dominion Power
    • Finalist, Best Spoken Word Grammy
    • John Henry “Pop” Lloyd Humanitarian Award
    • Legends and Legacies Award
    • Named a HistoryMaker
    • National Association of Radio and Television Announcers Award for Best Spoken Word Album
    • National Book Award Nomination for Gemini
    • National Parenting Publications Gold Award
    • Outstanding Woman of Tennessee
    • Parents’ Choice Award for The Sun Is So Quiet
    • Presidential Medal of Honor, Dillard University
    • The SHero Award for Lifetime Achievement
    • United States Senate Certificate of Commendation
    • Woman of the Year, Cincinnati YWCA
    • Women of Power Legacy Award

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