World-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni will be the keynote speaker for the 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 the A.K. Hinds University Center.
She also received the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry, was named the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award and was one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.” Her autobiography Gemini was a finalist for the National Book Award. The Inspirational Choir will perform two selections at the event, and Truthwriters, WCU’s spoken word group, will present a poem.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, and Saturday, Jan. 26, a range of service activities will take place at varying locations. The events are coordinated by WCU’s Center for Service Learning.
At 4:30 p.m. 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.
At 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, students will re-enact King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech from the University Center balcony. At 6 p.m., Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will host its annual open-mic night in Illusions as part of the celebration.
From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, a discussion about race will be hosted in the Cardinal Room of the University Center. The discussion will be followed at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover, who will present his show “SoLe Sanctuary” at the Bardo Arts Center. The show is part of the Arts and Cultural Events Performance Series at WCU.
The Giovanni address and most King celebration events at WCU are free and open to the public. Tickets for “SoLe Sanctuary” are $10 for students and $15 for all others and are available by calling 828.227.2479 or visiting bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.