Nikki Giovanni

June 7, 1943 - Knoxville, Tennessee
(70 years old)

Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. was born June 7, 1943 to Yolande Cornelia Sr. and Jones Giovanni in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. In 1960 she attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated in 1967 with honors with a Bachelors in history. Later, she attended University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She now teaches Writing and Literature at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.

Giovanni has received many awards for her writings. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her spoken word recordings are wildly recognized and was one of the finalists for a Grammy. She was awarded as "Woman of the Year" by more than one magazine, and received the NAACP image Award for Love Poems in 1998.

Nikki Rosa

Childhood rememberances are
always a drag if you're Black
you always remember things like
living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something
They never talk about how happy
you were to have your mother
all to yourself and how good the
water felt when you got your bath
from one of those
Big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque
in and somehow when you talk
about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings as the
whole family attended meetings

About Hollydale and even though you
remember your biographers never
understand your father's pain as he
sells his stock and another
dream goes
And though your're poor it isn't
poverty that concerns you and
though they fought a lot
it isn't your father's drinking that
makes any difference but only that

Everybody is together and you
and your sister have happy birthdays
and very good Christmasses and I
really hope no white person ever has
cause to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they'll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that

all the while I was quite happy

~Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni wrote this poem about moments in her childhood, and about how not all African-American childhoods are full of hardship.