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MLK Celebration featuring Nikki Giovanni

Campus News | Thursday, January 11, 2018

Updated Jan. 30, 2018

nikki giovanni with translatorProminent African-American poet and activist Nikki Giovanni offered a high-spirited presentation at Columbus State’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration Jan. 29.

Nikki GiovanniAlong with selected readings of her poetry, Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, stirred the crowd with remarks about the contributions of African-Americans building the country and the ongoing need for broadened engagement in civil justice.

She was introduced with the little-known fact that she began her teaching career as a creative writing instructor at Columbus State.

Giovanni spoke extensively about her Ohio connections and the impact of growing up in an African-American neighborhood in the Cincinnati suburbs. Known for her free speaking, she held forth on the current political climate and encouraged progressives to not be discouraged. She also spoke about her perspective as an older woman, which informs much of her current poetry writing.

In addition to Professor Giovanni’s presentation, attendees were treated to a prelude performance by the Arts Impact Middle School Choir and dynamic readings from Dr. King’s writings and speeches by Columbus State students.


About Nikki Giovanni

Nikki GiovanniAlthough she was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1943, Nikki Giovanni grew up in Cincinnati, and Ohio proudly claims the award-winning poet, writer and activist as a native daughter. After graduating with honors from her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University, Giovanni returned to Cincinnati. She established the city's first Black Arts Festival in 1967, and became a major force in the Black Arts Movement.

In 1968, “Black Feeling, Black Talk” was published, the first of Giovanni’s 11 volumes of poetry. Her latest book, “A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter” is a powerful rumination on her life and the people who have shaped her. Giovanni has received numerous awards and accolades, including multiple NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award, and more than 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the country.

A frequent lecturer, Giovanni has taught at The Ohio State University and Rutgers University, and is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.


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