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2012 Archives

Poet Nikki Giovanni opens Black History Month 2012 at SMU

Art, performance, community service events to be featured throughout February

February 1, 2012

Poet and author Nikki GiovanniWorld-renowned poet, author, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni will visit SMU Feb. 3 to help kick off the University’s 2012 Black History Month celebration. Her lecture is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

Dubbed “the Princess of Black Poetry” early in her career, Giovanni prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." As committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus, according to her bio at, “is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.”

Giovanni’s honors include NAACP Image Awards for her poetry collections Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea. Her most recent work, Bicycles: Love Poems (2009), reached #1 on in the Poetry category. Her 2005 children’s picture book Rosa, about the civil rights legend Rosa Parks, was named a Caldecott Honors Book (Bryan Collier, the illustrator, received the Coretta Scott King Award for best illustration). Rosa also reached #3 on The New York Times bestseller list.

The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, on which Giovanni herself reads and talks about her poetry, was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award.

The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, Giovanni has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She has  received Governor’s Awards from the states of Tennessee and Virginia, as well as the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, as well as the first recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library in 2007.

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and raised in Cincinnati, Giovanni graduated with honors in history from Fisk University. Since 1987, she has been a faculty member at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where she is a University Distinguished Professor of English.

Black History Month, celebrated annually in the United States, seeks to educate the American people about African-Americans' cultural backgrounds and achievements. Each year, the President issues a proclamation to call attention to the importance of the observance. SMU celebrates the month with a variety of events, which are free and open to the community. This year’s schedule:

February 2-26
  In Full Color! A Look at Black History Through Art
The history of black comics as shared by comic-book historian William H. Foster III, featuring civil rights-related art from SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program collection. A reception will be held 2-4 p.m. Feb. 18 at the venue in downtown Dallas. The event, curated by James Disco and Zane Steadman, is presented by the Texas Visual Arts Association. For more details, visit or call 972-951-7879.
Plaza of the Americas
700 N. Pearl St., Suite G-207
February 3
  Nikki Giovanni
The Association of Black Students presents a lecture by the renowned poet, commentator, activist and educator.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater
7:30 p.m.
February 4, 11, 18, 25

Community Service Days
Black Men Emerging leads four Saturdays of service in the Dallas area.
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

February 6
  Black Inventors and Inventions
The Association of Black Students presents a unique collection of inventions, rare artifacts, African art, sculptures, paintings and historical articles from Black newspapers.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
February 9
  “Where Are All the Good Black Men?”
Black Men Emerging hosts a moderated discussion of “the Good Black Men problem,” seeking the true issues and finding solutions.
SAMSA Suite, 300 Hughes-Trigg Student Center
7:30 p.m.
February 10
  Hilltop Renaissance
A night of free food, live jazz, poetry and spoken-word performance, interspersed with segments on the history of the Harlem Renaissance. Presented by Omega Psi Phi.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Varsity
7 p.m.
February 16
  African Students Association 2nd Annual Extravaganza
Performances celebrating African-American, South American and African culture, with a post-show dinner featuring African, Moroccan and Caribbean food.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater
7 p.m.
February 17
Alumni Reception and Scholarship Kick-Off
Centennial Hall, Hughes-Trigg Student Center Lower Level
Time TBA
February 22
  State of the Black SMU
A panel discussion of issues affecting SMU’s Black student population, followed by a town hall-style debate. Presented by Omega Psi Phi.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum
Noon - 1 p.m.
February 23
From “I Have a Dream” to “Yes We Can”
Performer Barry Scott chronicles America’s struggle for equality through the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.
Presented by the Association of Black Students.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater
8-10 p.m.
February 24
  “I Have a Dream” Re-enactment
The SMU Fine Arts Community/Residence Life and Student Housing presents a public re-enactment of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps and front lawn of Dallas Hall.
Main Quad
7-11 p.m.
February 27
  Progression of the Black Woman
Sisters Supporting Sisters presents a journey through the history of the American Black Woman through interactive performance art.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center, 1st Floor
5-9 p.m.
February 28
  Excellence Ball
The Association of Black Students inaugurates a new annual event.
Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballrooms
7:30 p.m.