Doctor of Humane Letters
Nikki Giovanni

Professor Giovanni has been one of the most meaningful voices in 20th and 21st century America; her writings and speeches are vast and diverse. She taught English, Creative Writing, and Black Studies for fifteen years in colleges and universities before being named in 1999 The University Distinguished Professor, Department of English, Virginia Tech University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Honors) in History from Fisk University. She has been awarded eighteen Doctorates of Humane Letters, three Doctorates of Literature, two Doctorates of Arts, and two Doctorates of Letters.

Her hundreds of writings have spanned the human spectrum of dynamic issues including books of poetry addressing spirituality, love, the blues, male and female relationships, life fulfillment, self-affirmation, cultural pride, and the affirmation of Black life and personhood. Her books for children speak creatively to historical, emotional, and psychological realities of growing up in an ambivalent society, while maintaining a healthy and hopeful outlook on the world and its limitless possibilities. She has edited books that showcase premier African American poetry and fiction, the messages of Hip Hop, grandfathers and grandmothers as keepers of traditions, and Appalachian elders. Her books of nonfiction convey the winding essence of her journey as a poet and her quest to interpret the issues of her soul and the truths raised by such towering literary leader such as Margaret Walker and James Baldwin, as well as a vast array of Black female voices.

Professor Giovanni’s spoken word has been shared around the world wherever persons gather to kindle the flame of freedom, justice, equality, and human dignity. Her words have been composed and recorded with national community choirs, produced by PBS Television, shared by Sony Music Entertainment, Inc, aired on Black Entertainment Television, performed by regional ensembles, and presented in major theatrical productions.

In recent years, she has been honored for her inspiration, dedication and commitment to education, activism, and the arts by numerous organizations including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the National Civil Rights Museum, the N.A.A.C.P Image Award for Outstanding Literary Word, NPR’s Book Concierge, the American Business Women’s Association, the National Black Writers Conference, the Las Vegas Urban League, the Mississippi State Senate and House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and presentation of numerous keys to the city across America.

She has been a healing and hopeful voice in America during times of social crisis and upheaval. In 2007, when violence shattered the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, VA, the university drafted her to lend a pastoral, palliative, and patient voice to their hurting community. She is a Poet Laureate of peace, love, and authentic being.

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