The Great Pax Whitie

by Nikki Giovanni

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Protest Song

Step 1

Ask your students, “What are some of the biggest issues, in your opinion, that affect your community today? How? Why?” Then discuss.

Step 2

Read “The Great Pax Whitie” by Nikki Giovanni. When you’re done, briefly discuss the message or intent of the piece. What issue is the poet attempting to address? How?

Step 3

Say, “Choose something that directly affects one of the communities you are a part of. Then jot down a list of ways in which you are affected and what can be done to combat those issues.” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “The Great Pax Whitie” in which they bring attention to a specific issue that affects their community and propose a call for change.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Start by watching the following trailer to Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project. When the trailer is over, ask your students about Nikki Giovanni’s legacy, as expressed in the trailer. Why is she a trailblazer? What issues did she advocate for?

Step 3

Now read “The Great Pax Whitie” by Nikki Giovanni. As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to the message of the piece and how it fits in with her body of work, as was depicted in the trailer.

Step 4

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to examine the piece in two different ways, first as a traditional poem that uses religious allusions to support its theme, then as a piece of gospel music. When you’ve gone over the parameters of the assignment, give your students time to work.

Step 5

When you are done, go over the first part with your students. Have a few of them share aloud.

Step 6

Then talk about the Gospel component of the assignment. How did it alter, enhance, or elevate the text? Discuss.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Criminal Justice
  • Death / Grief
  • Family
  • History
  • Police Brutality / Profiling
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence
  • War

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Sound Devices
  • Structure
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Blood
  • Death or Dying
  • Racism or Racial Slurs
  • Violence