Tickets are now on sale for a special Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration co-sponsored by Cameron Campus Ministry and Cameron University. On January 19, 2009, Dr. Nikki Giovanni, one of America's most widely read poets, will be the featured speaker during the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Giovanni will present a discussion at 2 p.m. at the Shepler Center Ballroom on CU's main campus in Lawton, with a reception to follow. The discussion and reception are open to the public at no charge. That evening, Giovanni will present the keynote address at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet held in the CU Fitness Center at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $25 for adults and $13.50 for students and are available by calling Cameron Campus Ministry at 580-357-7226.
Over the past 25 years, Nikki Giovanni's outspokenness, in her writing and in person, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. Since 1987, she has been teaching writing, poetry, and literature at Virginia Tech, where she has been named University Distinguished Professor. As a devoted and passionate writer, teacher and speaker, she inspires not only her students, but also readers and audiences nationwide.
Despite the dramatic changes that have occurred in American society since she roared out of the Black Arts Movement, Giovanni remains determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality in education. Always insistent on presenting the truth, Giovanni maintains her prominent place as a strong voice of the black community through her poetry and prose.
She has inspired readers and critics and has established herself as a best-selling poet, author and essayist since 1968. In her lectures, she speaks with great humor on her life and on the creativity in everything we do. 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.
"Do something with your life!" Giovanni once told an audience. "You will find that what you have coveted is not worth coveting. There is a limit to what material things can do."
The intensity and straightforwardness she conveys is apparent in all of her works and shows the depth of both her thinking and writing. She published her first book of poetry, "Black Feeling Black Talk," in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, 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 twenty-five "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," and "Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea" were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. "Blues: For All the Changes" reached number four 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 and reached number three on The New York Times bestseller list. Her book, "Racism 101," includes bold, controversial essays about the situation of Americans on all sides of the race issue.
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 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. Her most recent CD is "Nikki Giovanni in Philadelphia."
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, 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.
The 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration is co-sponsored by Cameron Campus Ministry and Cameron University. For more information, please contact Rev. Jenny Wynn at 580.357.7226. Information is also available at www.cameron.edu/mlkcelebration.