Nikki Giovanni, worldrenowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator, will be the keynote speaker for Western Carolina University’s annual celebration in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Giovanni, who has been called the “Princess of Black Poetry,” will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center. The address and most King celebration events at WCU are free and open to the public.
Giovanni’s first book of poetry, called “Black Feeling Black Talk,” was published in 1968 and launched her prolific writing career. Her later publications include “Gemini,” an autobiography that was a finalist for the National Book Award. She received the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry and was named the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award as well as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.”
Other events planned at WCU as part of the King celebration, which is themed “Stepping into the Future. Honoring the Vision,” range from a re-enactment of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to two days of service.
On Monday, Jan. 21, and Saturday, Jan. 26, a range of service activities will take place at varying locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The events are coordinated by WCU’s Center for Service Learning.
At 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will host a unity march on campus followed by a birthday party for King at Illusions in the University Center.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, students will re-enact King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech from the University Center balcony at 12:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will host its annual open mic night in Illusions.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, a discussion about race will be hosted from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Cardinal Room of the University Center. Seating is limited, and attendees are encouraged to register through the Department of Intercultural Affairs.
The discussion will be followed at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover, who will present “SoLe Sanctuary” at the Bardo Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for all others. Call (828)227-2479 or visit bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.