Keynote Speaker

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia and 1967 Fisk University honor graduate.

While a student at Fisk university, she edited The Herald, the student literary magazine, and was active in the Writer’s Workshop, as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She became committed to the Black arts movement, organized the Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati, and formed profound relationships with contemporary writers James Baldwin and Sonia Sanchez. Following the assassination of Malcolm X and the prominence of the Black Panthers, her poetry became the expression of many African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s. Giovanni’s human compassion was evident when she applied for and was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate School of Social Work. Later, she studied at Columbia University in the School of Fine Arts.

Many of her books have received honors and awards, including multiple NAACP Image Awards, the Caldecott Honors, and she was a finalist for the National Book Award. Giovanni’s spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album Truth Is On Its Way was a top 100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection was one of five finalists for a GRAMMY Award.

Her honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. She is the recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, including one from Fisk University. She has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award and has been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner. Oprah Winfrey named her one of twenty-five “Living Legends.” She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Delta of Tennessee Chapter at Fisk University.

As a prolific writer, she has published more than fourteen volumes of poetry, including Black Feeling Black Talk, Black Judgement, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day and The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni. She has written and published many books including Racism 101 and Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young Black People. Her latest book is Make Me Rain.

How to Watch the Keynote:

On Tuesday, October 6th, the 2021 Fisk Jubilee Day Convocation will be streamed live on YouTube at 10am Central. Please subscribe to the Official Jubilee Singers YouTube Channel now to be notified when it begins.