Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Nikki Giovanni. I was first introduced to Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni in the early 1980’s through her poetry and activism. She really made me feel “The Power of One,” that each of us has the power to change ourselves and to change systems. She is probably, in part, why I’m drawn to the field of social work.
I also fell in love with Giovanni because of her dedication to issues around gender, race, and power. She once said, after she had her son:
I wanted to have a baby and I could afford to have a baby…marriage is an institution that is inhospitable to women and would never play a role in my life.
Giovanni is currently a Professor of English at Virginia Tech. She witnessed the awful massacre in 2007 and yet was able to bring Virginia Tech community together with her poem that she read:
…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 awake to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory. Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water…We are Virginia Tech…We will prevail.
Nikki Giovanni is truly a national treasure and an inspiration to those of us that believe in social justice.