For Immediate Release
February 5, 2014
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BROCKPORT, NY—Nikki Giovanni, a renowned American poet, presented to a crowd of nearly 600 at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, Feb. 4 for the College’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Lecture Series. Those in attendance heard Giovanni reflect on stories and poetry that followed her own pursuit of civil rights in America. Giovanni talked about ways that young African-Americans can live life to the fullest. She discussed enjoying love, culture, and travel. “Grown people reach out to each other, you can’t let a fool make you crazy.” Giovanni said, “You need to enjoy life.”
Giovanni also encouraged all young people to get a passport so that they could travel. “You’ll see the world in a different light.”
The idea of people seeking education was a point of emphasis for Giovanni. She said that society should look at education as a way of becoming better human beings, rather than as a means to obtain high-paying jobs.
“We are not on earth to make money, but to do something better,” Giovanni said.
Giovanni told a number of stories, including one about Emmet Till—a young African-American boy who was brutally murdered for flirting with a white woman. Giovanni said events like that inspired activists such as Rosa Parks to act.
“Where would we be if Rosa Parks hadn’t sat down?” she asked the audience.
Finally, Giovanni read a poem that she had written about Martin Luther King, Jr.
Born in Knoxville, TN, in 1943, Giovanni has traveled the world and lived in many parts of the United States. She attended Fisk University, as well as University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Giovanni has written numerous works of poetry, focusing on topics such as civil rights and the power one has to make a difference. Giovanni is now a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.
Giovanni’s talk was sponsored by Brockport’s Office of Diversity and Department of African and African-American Studies. Past speakers in the lecture series, which began in 1985, include poet Maya Angelou, and King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.
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