The purpose of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture is to bring a scholarly examination of some aspect of the African American experience to Brockport and the surrounding community. Typically, the subject relates to King’s vision of the "beloved community,” in which all persons must be able to live harmoniously, brotherly, and sisterly. In our contemporary global village, this concept of “the beloved community” must necessarily be extended to include cultural, psycho-social, and intellectual diversities.
To this effect, the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture series has invited to the Brockport campus activists, academicians, public and private intellectuals to critically examine the meanings of The Beloved Community from their own eclectic backgrounds and proclivities.
Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator. Over the past 30 years, her 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 as determined and committed as ever 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 of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.
Giovanni was born in Knoxville, TN, and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, OH. She graduated with honors from Fisk University in 1968, after which she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968 and a second book within the next year, thus launching her career as a writer. 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.”
Giovanni’s honors and awards have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, she has been named “Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal and Ebony magazine. 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 has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. Black Enterprise named her a Women of Power Legacy Award winner for work that expands opportunities for other women of color. The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.