Nikki Giovanni First Speaker in Fall Distinguished Lecture Series

Nikki Giovanni
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Nikki Giovanni

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nikki Giovanni – activist, educator and award-winning poet – will be the first speaker in this fall’s student-sponsored Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Arkansas. The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Arkansas Union Ballroom. Giovanni will read from her poetry, talk of the struggle for African American rights in America and human rights around the world and stress the importance of education. The lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets are required but seating is limited.

Nikki Giovanni grew up in Cincinnati and first came to national prominence in the late 1960s with the publication of her first books of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk and Black Judgment. She has published 30 books so far in her career, including poetry, essay collections and children’s books. Rosa, her collaboration with illustrator Bryan Collier, is a children's picture book about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks. It was a Caldecott Honors Book and reached No. 3 on The New York Times Bestseller list.

Giovanni has been an outspoken voice for the African American movement all her life, and has lectured widely to promote equal rights for women and gays, opposed hate crime violence and, more personally, described her experiences as a cancer survivor. All of these themes have been prominent in her poetry, as well.

In 1987 Giovanni began teaching writing and literature at Virginia Tech, where she is now a Distinguished Professor of English. In the wake of the 2007 massacre on that campus Giovanni received national attention as she sought to comfort and rally her students and colleagues, telling them, “We are Virginia Tech … we will prevail.”

Giovanni’s appearance coincides with the university’s second annual McNair Scholars Research Conference, sponsored by the Graduate School and International Education. McNair Scholars are undergraduates from underrepresented groups, low-income families, or who are first generation college students. The conference is intended to encourage them to pursue graduate research degrees.

Nikki Giovanni will be the first speaker in the 2011 fall Distinguished Lecture Series. Retired General Wesley Clark will be part of the University of Arkansas Veteran’s Day observance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov.10, at the Walton Arts Center.

Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who was forced to amputate his own arm to save himself after a climbing accident, will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28 at the Fayetteville Town Center. 

Both events are free and open to the public.

The Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Arkansas is a student-sponsored program. Speakers are chosen by a student committee, and the events are funded by a student-approved fee, appropriated by the Associated Student Government.

Contacts

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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