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Renowned author Nikki Giovanni to speak Feb. 11 during Black History Month

Jan. 19, 2010 -- Renowned author, poet and professor Nikki Giovanni will be a special guest speaker as part of Arkansas State University's 2010 Black History MonthRenowned author, poet, and professor Nikki Giovanni will speak at ASU on Thursday, Feb. 11, as part of ASU's Black History Month events. celebration. Giovanni will appear at the Reng Student Services Center/Student Union's Centennial Ballroom,  on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. The event is free, and the public is welcome. Reng Student Services Center/Student Union is located at 101 N. Caraway Road, Jonesboro.

This event will allow the faculty, staff, students, and community to hear from the
world-renowned writer, poet, commentator, activist and educator who is famed for lending her voice and vision in looking at the world. Giovanni's focus is on the individual, and specifically on the power of people to make a difference in themselves and in the lives of others.

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Over the past thirty years, Giovanni's outspokenness in her writing and in lectures has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains determined and committed to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice in the African American community.

Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather's alma mater, in 1968. After graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, “Black Feeling Black Talk,” in 1968, and within the next year published her second. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing, she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends."

Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards. Her autobiography, “Gemini,” was a finalist for the National Book Award. “Love Poems,” “Blues: For All the Changes,” “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea,” “Acolytes,” and “Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat” were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. “Blues: For All the Changes” reached #4 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Most recently, her children's picture book “Rosa,” about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book. “Rosa” also reached #3 on The New York Times bestseller list. Shortly after its release, “Bicycles: Love Poems” reached #1 for poetry on

Giovanni's spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. Her album “Truth Is on Its Way,” on which she reads her poetry against a background of gospel music, was a Top 100 album and received the Best Spoken Word Album award given by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. Her “Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection,” on which she reads and talks about her poetry, was one of five finalists for a Grammy Award.

Giovanni's honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor's Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia.

She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from the National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by the History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. Black Enterprise honored her with a Women of Power Legacy Award for work that expands opportunities for other women of color. Learn more about Nikki Giovanni online (

Giovanni's speech comes as part of ASU's
Black History Month 2010 celebration, with the theme "Rethinking America’s Identity." Other activities include Charles Holt speaking on “When Having It All Is Just Not Enough” in the Student Union auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 4, the Fifth Annual Soul Food Day, sponsored by the Strong-Turner Alumni Chapter of the ASU Alumni Association, will provide a potluck dinner in the National Guard Armory on the ASU campus at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Feb. 6, storyteller and drummer Zinse Agginie appears in the ASU Museum Main Gallery on the second floor of the Dean B. Ellis Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, Feb. 7, there will be a World Aids Day lecture sponsored by the National Association of Black Social Workers in ASU's Student Union auditorium at 6 p.m.

Dr. Gauri Bhattacharya,
associate professor in the Department of Social Work, will distinguish “equality” and “equity,” while establishing the importance both of these concepts in social progress in the presentation, "Equity vs. Equality Diversity Dialogue" in the Student Union Mockingbird Room on Monday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. Dr. Bhattacharya will review historic, social, cultural, economic and political challenges, as well as some of the challenges and actions necessary for addressing them.

Comedian Chris Rock’s popular documentary film, “Good Hair,” will be presented with a discussion to follow in the Student Union Mockingbird Room on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. The program will address issues of African American hair, self-esteem, identity, and more.

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the “Tunnel of Oppression” event takes place in the Student Union Centennial Ballroom at 7 p.m. The program is designed to create an awareness of different types of oppression and its effects within society and the campus community.

Guest speaker Safisha Hill presents a lecture titled “Stepping Back Into Time” in the Student Union Centennial Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. The Third Annual Fashion Expo takes place in the Student Union Centennial Ballroom on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. The Black Student Association offers a chance for participants and audience to test their knowledge in the Black History Quiz Bowl, taking place in the Student Union Mockingbird Room on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m.

Black History Month 2010 concludes with the “All-Black Affair Gala” at the Fowler Center on Friday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. The formal event allows students to come together in a relaxed atmosphere and mingle with faculty and staff while enjoying food and live entertainment.

For more information on Black History Month at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, contact the ASU Leadership Center at (870) 972-2055.

--by Dr. Nancy Hendricks, director, Alumni Com

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