Nikki Giovanni made her grand appearance to this world on June 7, 1943 as Yolande Cornelia Giovanni. She was one of the first Black Art Movement poets to reach fame, fame that was brought to her by shameless forms of activism towards violence. Her prominence in the poetry world grew vastly as her goal was to destroy white America. Giovanni was first introduced to the term racism by her grandmother, Emma Louvenia. It wasn’t until then that she was made aware of all the problems that came along with the discrimination. Once graduating high school, she went on to attend Fisk University where she reestablished the SNCC which in an acronym for Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in 1964. Giovanni continuously insisted that her poetry be an expression of her own individual experience and not some hear say around town from the black community and its entirety.
Determined to support herself, the young mother with an undeniable drive to succeed, fought vigorously to endorse her work. In the 1970’s both white people and black people took a liking to Nikki Giovanni’s reputation and the name she had made for herself. One of the goals of the Black Art Movement was to bring the “new black poetry” to the people and she did just that. Giovanni accepted the Ladies’ Home Journal Woman of the Year Award insisting that the reason she was selected for this award by a “white organization” is because of the progress she has made in race relations. During the Black Arts Movement a cultural revolution was born in 1965 and Giovanni was found in the center of it all. “How does one adopt a revolutionary stance?
By becoming angry enough to kill, according to Giovanni, but while the possibility exists for literally killing someone, what she really means is killing in the sense of rejecting values, habits, and actions that have kept black people enslaved. These include certain religious practices, economic habits, and behavioral characteristics that black people must “kill” if they are to be free from continued oppression by the white majority.” ‘Nikki Giovanni – Nikki Giovanni American Literature Analysis’ Masterpieces of American Literature Ed. Steven G. Kellman. eNotes.com, Inc. 2006 eNotes.com 11 Dec.
In 1968 the talented young author released one of her poems that would introduce an array of all new notions to the culture of an African American. Her poem is called “Beautiful Black Men.”
This piece of literature creates an atmosphere for Black people, where the ordinary features, whether they be good or bad, seem to be accepted and viewed as beautiful regardless of anything. She illustrates that the natural blackness is striking when they just let themselves be the way they are minus having to hide behind a connotation of how they should represent themselves. Nikki Giovanni then goes on to publish one of her most recognized poems in the Recreation volume of her books in 1970. The name of this very poem is called “Ego Tripping.” It is an ode that every African American youth and all White children must read.
She is powerful and covered in confidence and natural beauty, no one can touch her. The rhythm of this poem is contagious, the thoughts are encouraging, and the history lesson is seen as a much needed reminder about how to never forget our roots and where we came from, whether we are African American or not. The truth of Giovanni’s life after those first two books were made available provided us with some clues. Once she became known as a speaker for the Black Arts Movement, she then packed all her things and she and Thomas moved to New York. There they started to make steady appearances on Soul, the Black Arts TV program, and even producing as well as designing some of the episodes. As Nikki Giovanni tacks on countless interviews during this time, everyone can’t help but to notice how obvious it is that the young poet is being called time and time again, “The Princess of Black Poetry.” She was titled “Woman of the Year” by many various magazines. Nikki Giovanni took a stand and paved the way for young authors and activists to be expressive about how they believe in something by demonstrating how to fight for something without using violence. By being confident and unwavering in her belief that some people cannot even understand her way of thinking, as if it is on another level than theirs. Just as she perfectly describes herself in “Ego Tripping.”