b. Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr., 7th June 1943, Knoxville, Tennesse, U.S.A.
Second child of Yolande and Jones Giovanni, Nikki's family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in August 1943.
In 1957, her family moved to Knoxville to live with maternal grandparents, Emma Louvenia and John Brown Watson and attends Austin High School.
In 1960, she enrolled as an early entrant in Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Two years later her Grandfather Watson dies, she was dismissed from Fisk University in February and returned to Cincinnati where she began working at Walgreen's and takes occasional classes at University of Cincinnati.
In 1964 she re-entered Fisk University and in 1965 re-established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chapter at Fisk University.
Two years later, she became assistant in John O. Killens's writers' workshop at Fisk University and a year later received bachelor of arts at Fisk University.
Later that year her grandmother Watson died.
She organized first the Cincinnati Black Arts Festival, became managing editor of Conversation, attended Detroit Conference of Unity and Art, entered University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work with a Ford Foundation fellowship.
In 1968 she attended the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. and then moved to New York City.
There she received a grant from National Foundation of the Arts to attend Columbia University's School of Fine Arts. There she published 'Black Feeling, Black Talk'.
The next year she published 'Black Judgement' with a grant received from Harlem Council of the Arts.
At that time she gave birth to a son, Thomas Watson Giovanni, on 31st August 1969.
She then teached at Queens College and at Rutgers University.
In 1970, she established NikTom, Ltd., a communications company, edited and published 'Night Comes Softly', an anthology of poetry by black women, published 'Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement', 'Re: Creation', and 'Poem of Angela Yvonne Davis'.
the truth is on it's way (2 versions) - 1971 / like a ripple on a pond - 1972 / the way i feel - 1975
In 1971 she cut her first record, 'Truth Is On Its Way' and received the Highest Achievement Award trom Mademoiselle magazine.
Giovanni then travelled to Europe and Africa, recording taped video with James Baldwin in London and published 'Gemini' (autobiographical essays) and 'Spin A Soft Black Song' (children's poetry).
Between 1972-1980, she helped finance and serve as editorial consultant to, and writes regularly for 'Encore American & Worldwide News'.
She gave frequent lectures/poetry readings throughout the country, in some years, as many as 200.
In 1972, Truth receives NATRA's (National Association of Radio and Television Announcers) Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
The following year she gave a poetry recital at New York's Philharmonic Hall, received one of eight Women of the Year awards from the Ladies' Home Journal at Washington's Kennedy Center, visited Africa on a lecture tour sponsored by the Department of State.
Her book 'My House' received commendation from the American Library Association as one of the best books of 1973.
She was also given Life Membership and Scroll by The National Council of Negro Women.
Her companu published 'Ego Tripping and Other Poems for Young Readers' and released Like A Ripple On A Pond' on record.
In 1974, she published 'A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker' and received honorary doctorate of humanities from Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio.
The following year she published 'The Women and the Men' and released the excellent 'The Way I Feel'.
The album became highly collectable amongst soul fans.
legacies - the poetry of nikki giovanni - 1976 / the reason i like chocolate - 1976 / cotton candy on a rainy day - 1978 / in philadelphia - 1997
In 1976 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature trom Ripon University, Ripon, Wisconsin and released 'Legacies and The Reason I Like Chocolate' on record.
1977 bought an honorary doctorate of literature trom the University of Maryland, Princess Anne Campus.
The following year she published 'Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day', and released a record of 'Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day', received an honorary doctorate of literature from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Then tradgedy stuck when her father had a stroke. Her mother moved with their son back to Cincinnati.
After this event Giovanni made her home with her parents and shouldered the extensive domestic and financial responsibilities for her family.
After a brief halt to activities, she published 'Vacation Time', a book of children's poetry.
She was also named an honorary commissioner for the President's Commission on the International Year of the Child.
In 1982, her father died.
The following year she published 'Those Who Ride The Night Winds' and was named YWCA Woman of the Year (Cincinnati Chapter).
Between 1984 and 1985 she became visiting Professor of English, Ohio State University, Columbus.
Her opposition to the boycott of South Africa led to her being blacklisted by TransAfrica and subsequently to bomb and death threats.
Two years later Giovanni became Professor of Creative Writing, College of Mount Saint Joseph on-the-Ohio.
She received an honorary doctorate of human letters from the College of Mount Saint Joseph and was named in the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame as well as being named Outstanding Woman of Tennessee.
She made an European lecture tour for USIA (United States Information Agency).
In 1986, she received the Post-Corbett Award (Cincinnati Post), Detroit City Council gave her its Distinguished Recognition Award and she served as Duncanson Artist-in-Residence at the Taft Museum of Cincinnati.
Between 1987 and 1989 Giovanni became Commonwealth Visiting Professor of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.
Additionally a film 'Spirit To Spirit: The Poetry of Nikki Giovanni' (a PBS film) was released and she performed 'A Signal in the Land' with the Johnson City Symphony orchestra Giovanni also served as a judge for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award and was appointed to a three year term on the Ohio Humanities Council.
By 1988, Giovanni had published 'Sacred Cows . . . And Other Edibles', a book of essays and was named a Cincinnati bi-Centennial honoree.
'Spirit To Spirit' received the Silver Apple Award from Oakland Museum Film Festival. 'Sacred Cows' received the Ohioana Library Award and 'Vacation Time' received the Children's Reading Roundtable of Chicago Award.
Giovanni also received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Fisk University.
By 1989, she accepted a permanent position as Professor of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and two years later received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Indiana University, Gary Campus.
In 1992, Giovanni received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio.
Without doubt, Nikki Giovanni has had a major impact on Black Culture over the last four decades.
Her album releases are hard to find and excellent with input from the likes of Richard Tee, Steve Gadd, David Newman and Cissy Houston involved, Arif Mardin acting as producer and Roberta Flack provided the sleeve notes.
Thanks To Rev. Tim Easton for his excellent contributions to this page. Thank you my friend.
Truth Is On It's Way (Atlantic Records 1971)
Like A Ripple On A Pond (Collectables Records 1973)
The Way I Feel (Atlantic Records 1975)
Legacies - The Poetry Of Nikki Giovanni - Read By Nikki Giovanni (Folkways Records 1976)
The Reason I Like Chocolate (And Other Childrens Poems) (Folkways Records 1976)
Cotton Candy On A Rainy Day (Folkways Records 1978)
Spirit To Spirit (Videocassette Records 1987)
In Philadelphia (Live) (Collectables Records 1997)
Stealing Home: For Jack Robinson (Sony Records 1997)
Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like The Rivers - Compilation (Rhino Records 2000)