Poet Nikki Giovanni Retires From Virginia Tech

English Professor Nikki Giovanni is retiring after 35 years.

via: BET

Giovanni said in an interview with Virginia Tech, “I hope that I’ve done a good job. I hope that I’ve done at least my fair share.”

The 79-year-old also added, “In all fairness, I’m getting old.”

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a statement, “Nikki Giovanni has been an important and deeply valued presence on our campus, giving voice to the spirit of Virginia Tech and helping us celebrate, mourn, learn, heal, and be better. Her words will continue to inspire us and touch readers around the world, and while we will miss her regular presence on campus, she will always be a beloved member of our university community.”

Nikki Giovanni, a graduate of Fisk University, is a civil rights activist and poet who came into the spotlight after her involvement in the Black Arts movement in the 1960s. She also established the first Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1967.

One of Giovanni’s highlighted moments at the university came the day after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. According to The Virginian-Pilot, then-President Charles Steger asked Giovanni to recite a poem at the memorial convocation in Cassell Coliseum. Former US President George Bush was in attendance.

Giovanni’s televised chant-poem received a standing ovation from the crowd.

CNN reported that Giovanni was one of the first people on campus to raise awareness about the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, a year and a half prior. When first hearing the news of the shooting, Giovanni immediately suspected Cho to be the perpetrator.

According to the article, Cho was Giovanni’s student in the fall of 2005. However, Lucinda Roy, then head of the English department, removed him from the class at Giovanni’s behest. Cho’s disturbing poetry and behavior prompted students to stop attending class. As a result, Giovanni urged Roy to take action, otherwise she would resign from her position altogether.

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