Renowned Poet Nikki Giovanni Comes to Bridgewater

Giovanni Contributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration​

Heather Good, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va.- On Jan. 21, as part of Bridgewater’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations, the world-renowned poet Nikki Giovanni came to speak. Since the 1960s, Giovanni has used her poetry and lectures to support the civil rights movement and preach a message of equality for all. Over that time, she has written thirty books for children and adults and won multiple honors for her writing and actions, including the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry and the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award.

During her lecture in a packed Cole Hall, Giovanni discussed the importance of remembering everyone’s actions are significant. She argued it does not matter how much time an individual has on Earth to make a difference if they try to make the world a better place while they are alive.

She used King as an example, due to the turbulent time period in which he was working. He likely knew he would not live to be very old. However, this did not stop him, but pushed him to fight for what he believed in even harder.

Giovanni examined the current political and social climate of the country. She connected the ongoing partial government shutdown to when she was living with her grandparents as a child.

She recalled times when her family and families in similar economic situations struggled to get enough coal to heat their homes. She argued the government shutdown is showing people who may not have experienced difficult situations like this before what it is like to live in the shoes of the less fortunate.

Trump’s anti-immigration policies also came up in the conversation. Giovanni stated she felt more people should be allowed into the United States because many are just trying to give their children a chance at a better life. Giovanni said this is not very different from what many Americans want for their own children.

Giovanni transitioned to a discussion on her faith in God. She talked about how she felt people need to open their hearts and worship him more. However, she claimed the belief we must love everyone is not true, since God and Jesus did not love everyone.

What is important, she stated, was that people choose carefully who they love. Her belief was a person should only give their love to people who will stick by them and love them back.

The lecture was not all serious, as Giovanni injected plenty of humorous anecdotes and jokes into the mix, which had the audience roaring with laughter.

Particularly amusing was her story of how she explained to one of her classes how she would win if she were a contestant on Deal or No Deal. Their dismissal of her led her to create “Deal or No Deal (for Eng 4714 CRN 16937),” a poem which she recited that left the audience in stitches.

Giovanni did an excellent job at mixing just the right amount of heart, humor and thought-provoking commentary on life, beliefs and faith to create a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience.