Author (Your Name)

Nell Walker, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. American Studies Program


David Lubin

Second Advisor

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes


1988 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Nikki Giovanni's first book of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk. Giovanni commemorated this auspicious occasion with the release of her newest work Sacred Cows...and Other Edibles this past January. The somewhat Erma-Bomeckish Sacred Cows is a far cry from the the revolutionary Black Feeling, but then again the now 44-year-old Giovanni is a long way from the 25-year-old student activist who wrote Black Feeling. Born on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Nikki Giovanni was raised in Wyoming, Ohio. a middle-class suburb of Cincinnati. In 1960, Giovanni entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, only to be thrown out in February of her Freshman year after a clash with the dean of women over the proper behavior for a Fisk woman. Giovanni returned to Fisk in 1964 and graduated from the University magna cum laude in February, 1967. While at Fisk, Giovanni began the involvement with political action mat was to later dominate her writing. Absorbing the excitement and liberal political ideas that saturated American society at the time and heeding Stokely Carmichael's 1963 call for Black Power, Giovanni soon became wrapped up in the Black struggle for equality, forsaking her middle-class conservatism. In 1964 Giovanni founded a chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Fisk. This marks the real beginning of her involvement in the fight for equal rights.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Nikki Giovanni, Black Feeling, Black Talk, equal rights, sell out, Black revolution