In a visit to Grambling State University, Nikki Giovanni shared her wisdom and experiences. The world-renowned poet aimed to inspire a new generation of leaders. “HBCUs don’t have a bad image, we don’t have enough money,” she said. “The GOP doesn’t like intelligent negroes. There’s nothing less logical in America than the hatred of Black people.”

Giovanni discussed her experiences in the civil rights movement and gave a lecture on life and love. During the sickness of her mother before her death, Giovanni felt as if she needed to do something fun to cope with possibly losing the most prominent person in her life. “Being in love is fun,” she said. It was during this time she also wrote her 2007 book of poems, Acolytes. “Love requires trust and balance, like a bicycle,” she continued. From this realization, she wrote her 2009 book of poems Bicycles: Love Poems.

After expressing her opinions in the love field, Giovanni encouraged all students to be open to life and all of its experiences. “Everybody has something that they can do,” she exclaimed. “Whatever you want to do, you have the right.”

Being an advocate for doing what she wanted to do in life, Giovanni used poetry as her outlet. “I’m tired of people acting like the arts don’t matter,” she preached.

Giovanni also talked about how we need to embrace change and be accepting of all the differences of people. With all of the differences that divide us, there are so many commonalities that unite us all.  Due to the uncertain times that we live in, her message was well received.

Not only did Giovanni express her opinions in love, life and education, she felt the need to touch on the political system. “Bobby Jindal is not doing a good job,” she said before the audience cheered. Not stopping there, Giovanni felt the need to speak on the political system on a wider scale. “How can we have a health bill without abortion and with Viagra when Viagra is the reason they need abortion?” asked Giovanni.

Born in Tennessee in 1943, Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni is an acclaimed artist who is respected the world over as a poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator.

Through her outspokenness, writings and lectures, Giovanni shares her experiences, continues to fight for civil rights and equality, and maintains a prominent place as a strong voice of the black community.

Giovanni has received numerous awards and honora including the NAACP Image Award and a Grammy nomination. She was commissioned to write an inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. As the author of more than 30 books for adults and children, Giovanni is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.