“Revolutionary Dreams” by Nikki Giovanni


This morning I read an amazing poem by Ms. Giovanni from her book The Women and the Men. It’s a great collection of poems and I encourage you to invest in a copy. Anyway, I would like to share the poem because I feel it’s important in the current political climate.

i used to dream militant
dreams of taking
over america to show
these white folks how it should be
i used to dream radical dreams
of blowing everyone away with my perceptive powers
of correct analysis
i even used to think i’d be the one
to stop the riot and negotiate the peace
then i awoke and dug
that if i dreamed natural
dreams of being a natural
woman doing what a woman
does when she’s natural
i would have a revolution

As the campaign marches on, the rhetoric has become more harsh and combative. Everyone wants to “take back the country,” or get rid of this group or defeat this other group. The focus is on everyone else, and no one seems to be looking within to figure out how they should change. As Nikki so eloquently expresses in her poem, revolutionary change is not forcing others to change to your view or ideology, true revolutionary change comes from within. It is the process of changing yourself and being an example. And let’s face it—that is the truly difficult task. Forcing someone to change or imposing your will upon others is easy. Honestly looking at yourself, acknowledging your shortcomings, and making a conscious decision to change is infinitely harder and requires significantly more courage.

I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Nikki Giovanni when I was a college student. She is an inspiring individual and an amazing poet. If you are unfamiliar with her work, I highly recommend you read more of her poetry.



Filed under Literature

8 responses to ““Revolutionary Dreams” by Nikki Giovanni

  1. So true. Changing oneself is harder than trying to change others.(Not that we can do that, but we humans have been known to try.)

  2. Rehema Olufemi-Jones

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Nikki and Angela. I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement and unfortunately, in some ways we’re still fighting. Seeing you young ladies refreshed my spirit and encouraged me to keep moving in the direction my mother so tenaciously steered me into. She always served our community until she couldn’t anymore, then it served her. I’m her legacy!
    Rehema Olufemi-Jones

    • Thank you for your comment, Rehema. I agree with you completely. Ms Giovanni and Ms Davis are both inspiring women, and it’s also unfortunate that people are still struggling for equality on so many fronts. But the good news is we have made progress. The majority of people seem to feel genuine outrage when confronting injustice. I just think that with global connectivity those who embrace hatred have a platform from which to broadcast their views. But it works both ways; people who embrace equality also have a platform to connect and reach out.

      May you have a blessed day and thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  3. Ashley Scott

    Thank you for sharing! After watching Girl Trek’s video with Nikki Giovanni and Angela Davis this reminds me that the revolution truly starts within me.

    • Hi Ashley. Thank you for your comment, and I am glad that you enjoyed the post. Yes, the revolution does begin within each of us. Every thought and every action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has consequence. It is only through changing ourselves that we manifest changes in the world around us.

      I hope you and your loves ones are all safe and healthy. Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


  4. CK

    I first read this poem in my twenties and now in my fifties, feel I’ve lived all the stanzas of this poem. From the first I was moved and inspired by this idea that just being myself is a kind of revolution. Best regards to you JJ!

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