Angela Davis & Nikki Giovanni Share First-Ever Candid Conversation, Lending Their Legacy To GirlTrek Movement

Angela Davis speaks onstage during the Independent Lens Examines Black History Month panel.
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Angela Davis and Nikki Giovanni came together on Friday in what was promoted by GirlTrek, via Facebook, as “the first-ever joint candid conversation” between the two iconic African American cultural figures.

During an eventful live event, the women were brought together by Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison — founders of the GirlTrek platform — for a discussion that powered the launch of the #DaughtersOf campaign.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the #DaughtersOf campaign calls for women around the globe to declare their lineage — and self-affirm their identity — in a social media post to inspire a movement.

Over 25,000 people were tuned in on Facebook Live as Davis and Giovanni engaged in thought-provoking dialogue. In the classic coming-together of sisterhood and exemplification of leadership, Davis and Giovanni lent the power of their legacy to help catapult the #DaughtersOf launch, perhaps powering the next generation of change-makers.

In its coverage, BET.com reported that the campaign “is going to help make sure Black women are looking out for themselves, and each other.”

The overall conversation during the live stream was reflective of a shared journey for the two women.

Davis drove home signature messages of strong activism and independence, advising viewers to remain steadfast in the struggle for justice, equality, and freedom. When asked about what radical self-care meant for her, she emphasized the involvement of community. With certitude, Davis stated that self-care is not individualistic – but instead, is to be centered around the collective healing of all.

Further along in the live stream, Davis and Giovanni were joined in conversation. Similar to the cultural understanding of what to do when “grown folks are talking,” Dixon and Garrison briefly put the call’s agenda to the side as their elders walked down memory lane.

Davis shared with Giovanni a personal story from her nephew’s wedding, where she was asked to read one of Giovanni’s poems. She recounted the experience reciting “Resignation” as “absolutely powerful.”

Giovanni, noticeably appreciative of Davis’ share, reciprocated with a recollection of her son telling the poet that he and his daughter were so excited to have run into Davis in Costa Rica.

The iconic figures chatted together in a manner of two longtime girlfriends, sharing personal stories, exemplifying black sisterhood.

Giovanni later shifted to a serious tone and spoke of the time period when Davis was in prison, showing solidarity.

“Everything we did went to rallying for your freedom. We poets were working very hard about your freedom.”

Dixon and Garrison shifted directions a bit as the conversation came to a close, asking the women to share their perspective on specific current events.

When they approached the topic of Ahmaud Arbery – the 25-year-old black man who was murdered by two white men in Georgia — the younger pair sought guidance from Davis and Giovanni, asking a question.

“We’re tired. What are we supposed to do?”

“This has been the history of the black presence. Black Lives Matters emerges… we do demonstrations, but it doesn’t go away. Sometimes we have to do the same things a million times. Even when we repeat the work over and over again. The work that we do creates a terrain for the future. We would not be doing what we are doing at this moment had not it been for those who came before us. That is why we are here today. And we do this work for our communities… and they stretch to the past and to the future,” Davis declared.

Nikki Giovanni encouraged eager viewers with a call to action to “forge ahead on your own,” as she let her intentions be known.

“I don’t see how people can live in yesterday with all that has happened. That’s what all of us need to do, we need to flap our arms and fly to tomorrow.”

Before they closed out the conversation, the GirlTrek duo made sure to get Davis and Giovanni’s take on beauty and self-image as it relates to black women. Gesturing towards the fact that 2019 marked the first year that Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, and Miss World were all black women, Dixon and Garrison posed a question.

“What does that mean for black beauty, if anything?

Giovanni jokingly admitted that she wasn’t current on that news, but offered advice to women regarding value and self-worth. She said it was a good idea for women to know their audience, and she warned young people to stop asking people who hate them to value their worth.

Davis added to Giovanni’s sentiments by shedding light into black women’s history with “the politics of appearance.” She acknowledged the importance of appearances, but cautioned not to focus too much on that when “actual beauty has nothing at all to do with physical appearance.” Davis brought the focus back to the reason behind the successful live stream experience in the first place.

“Beauty is getting one million black women to walk with GirlTrek. Beauty is liberation!”

Founded in 2011, GirlTrek is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to pioneer a health movement for African American women and girls grounded in civil rights history and principles through walking campaigns, community leadership, and health advocacy.