Nikki Giovanni Historical Marker Unveiled on May 23, 2019

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Nikki Giovanni Historical Marker Unveiled on May 23, 2019

Posted: 05/21/2019
Nikki GiovanniMayor Madeline Rogero and other City officials will welcome Ms. Giovanni, a Virginia Tech Distinguished Professor and Knoxville native, for the unveiling of a historic marker near the entrance to the Cal Johnson Recreation Center on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 10 a.m.

Giovanni was born at the Old Knoxville General Hospital. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but spent summers with her grandparents at their home at 400 Mulvaney Street (since renamed Hall of Fame Drive). She and her sister played at Cal Johnson Park. She was educated at Austin High School and graduated with honors from Fisk University, and as a writer has won the Langston Hughes Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, seven NAACP Image Awards, and dozens of additional recognitions.

One of her best-known essays is “400 Mulvaney Street,” and it recounts her grief at the loss of her grandparents’ house and the surrounding African-American neighborhood to a Knoxville “urban renewal” project in the 1960s. Cal Johnson Park is all that remained of the cherished Mulvaney Street of Giovanni’s childhood.

The historic marker honors the location of Giovanni’s grandparents’ home and recognizes the devastating loss to her family and to many other African-American families.

Poet Nikki Giovanni will read her “Knoxville, Tennessee” poem during the unveiling.
Anyone needing a disability accommodation to attend the unveiling should contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Stephanie Cook, at scook@knoxvilletn.gov or 865-215-2034. For an English interpreter, contact Title VI Coordinator Tatia M. Harris at 865-215-2831.