Giovanni wins NAACP Image Award
By Sally Harris
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 30 - April 30, 1998
Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Tech professor and poet, won the NAACP Image Award for literature for her book Love Poems and performed the finale of the Image Awards program March 7 on the Fox television network.
Finalists in the literature category included Walter Moseley, Julie Dash, Sonia Sanchez, and E. Lynn Harris. Giovanni's Love Poems, published by William Morrow and Co., has now had 60,000 copies printed.
At the Image Awards, Giovanni was honored along with people such as actor and dancer Gregory Hines, musician Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, and actress Vanessa Williams. For the finale, Giovanni read a portion of her poem "But Since You Finally Asked" from her book Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni, while Savion Glover of "Bring in Da Noise Bring in Da Funk" tapped to it.
This is Giovanni's second major award in recent years. She received the Langston Hughes Award for 1996 for distinguished contributions to arts and letters. Previous Hughes award winners include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ralph W. Ellison, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou.
But the awards started coming Giovanni's way long ago. After coming into contact, during her college years, with the principles of the "black-power" movement, Giovanni went on to study social work at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk, in 1968 and the second, Black Judgment, in 1969, becoming a voice for the movement. The Amsterdam News named her "Most Admired Black Woman" of 1969.
Giovanni also has written poetry for youngsters, including the books Spin a Soft Black Song in 1971 and The Sun is So Quiet in 1996; but she continued writing about the issues of the day in works such as My House, published in 1972, and Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, published in 1978.
Her works include books of essays, such as Sacred Cows...and other Edibles published in 1988 and Racism 101 published in 1994. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni was published in 1996 and Love Poems in 1997.