When public figures present their humanity to crowds it is that much easier to understand why people love them. This could not have been more apparent than when Nikki Giovanni made an appearance in my hometown, Jacksonville, Fla., last night.
It was an honor not only to see her encourage and empower a mostly Black audience at Edward Waters College, but it was also humbling to see that a woman, whose brand withstands the test of time, share triumphs, pain and progress with audiences.
She delivered a constructively critical presentation and performed spoken word.
After signing every autograph requested of her, she graciously engaged the media and talked everything from peace to hairpieces in a press conference at the college. She told the media that she had nothing else planned that night and would answer every question asked.
She re-emphasized the need for urban youth to have technology, namely computers or iPADS. She shamed anti-immigration legislation.
When asked about natural hair, Giovanni did not espouse self-hatred themes about women who embrace chemical alterations.
In fact, she said she thought it was quite clever when young women had green hairpieces.
“One plays with oneself,” she said. She shared that when overcoming cancer she colored her hair blonde to show her mother that she would be ok. Also, as a woman with tawny skin, her hair color gave what she described as an instant tan.
Giovanni kept it real. She kept it human.
The professorial poet reminded listeners of the need for emotionalism in light of technological advances. She said that she does not ask her students at Virginia Tech year specific questions that could be answered with their gadgets.
Instead, she said that she asks questions like “What role did personal ambition play in the Renaissance?”
Many told her that they had never encountered emotional responses to academic material.
I could go on and on about the myriad perspectives that she shared and causes she championed… However, I hope that you’ll check out my story for HBCU Digest on her visit.
** Sneakpeak** She and I talked hip-hop and misogyny.