Nikki Giovanni shares her remembrances of James Baldwin

Nikk Giovanni
Poet Nikki Giovanni signing books after her lecture. Photo by Aster Equine Photography

Poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni delivered the second annual Busboys and Poets Lecture: “Jimmy and Me—and Our Interconnected Future as Americans,” on April 23 before an audience of more than 350 at Sherwood Center in Fairfax as part of George Mason University’s yearlong Baldwin100 program.

In 1971, Giovanni taped a two-hour “dialogue” with author James Baldwin and for a public TV show called “Soul!” At 47, Baldwin was already a legend for his novel The Fire Next Time and other writings. Giovanni, then 28, was a luminary of the Black Arts Movement as the author of the 1968 poetry collection Black Feeling, Black Talk. Their conversation was subsequently published in book form.

The Baldwin100 is a yearlong program from George Mason’s Alan Cheuse International Writers Center designed to encourage students and the community at large to engage with the late author’s work around what would have been his 100th birthday.