28 Mar 2024

Poet Nikki Giovanni on white supremacy, the Capitol attack, and teaching the Virginia Tech shooter

Nikki Giovanni has spent more than five decades in the public eye, as an activist, poet and innovator.

Born on the “wrong side of the tracks” in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the era of segregation, Giovanni came of age during the Black power and civil rights movements in 1960s in America. She came under the spotlight again in 2007, when the university she had been teaching at, Virginia Tech, was the victim of a mass shooting, carried out by one of her former students. The poem she wrote to commemorate the 32 victims, “We are Virginia Tech”, touched many people across the world.

In this episode of Ways to Change the World, Nikki Giovanni joins Krishnan Guru-Murthy to to talk about her life and work, how anger has fuelled her poetry at different stages of her life – touching on topics such as domestic abuse, segregation, Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump – and recounts her experience of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Produced by Silvia Maresca.

Listen and subscribe

You can listen to and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts here.

Or on Spotify, Acast, CastBox and other good podcast apps.

So join us as we explore the big ideas changing the way we think, act and live – and how much impact we can really have as individuals.

A filmed version of each interview is available on our Channel 4 News YouTube channel – hit subscribe to keep updated on when a new episodes