Wednesday night the Black Student Union featured Nikki Giovanni as their keynote speaker for Black History Month. Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator. She is also a distinguished professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Caitlyn Wells, special programs director of BSU and senior in journalism and mass communications, stated that the reason BSU decided to bring Giovanni in this year is because she is an eloquent speaker and BSU thought she would be an excellent fit for the organization’s current theme: “A Deeper Level.”
JohnElla Holmes, American ethnic studies instructor, opened the program by describing how Giovanni had been an inspiration to her life. Shortly after, Gabby Hightower, freshman in open option, led the room in the singing of the Black National Anthem.
Justice Davis, freshman in business administration, then performed an original poem entitled “Seed of Unity,” which received a standing ovation from both the crowd and Giovanni. Myra Gordon, associate provost of K-State’s office of diversity, introduced Giovanni, whom she had known before the event.
Giovanni covered a variety of subjects including her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, the importance of education and her relationship with civil rights activists Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. She also read some of her writings about King, Parks, the game show “Deal or No Deal” and her home state of Tennessee.
The audience’s laughter and attentiveness showed that they enjoyed Giovanni’s lecture.
“I thought it was insightful,” said Alexia Sampson, senior in animal science and pre-veterinary medicine. “It made me look at life differently.”
Sampson also stated that she loves Black History Month because “it provides the opportunity to branch out African-American culture and educate others about our history.”
“It was very empowering,” added Alba Chacon, senior in animal sciences and Spanish.
Chacon said she enjoyed the overview of black history provided in the presentation. She also stated that she thinks Black History Month is great to celebrate because every year it informs others about what African-Americans have gone through and gives insight on black heritage.
“I think she [Nikki Giovanni] is refreshing and she covered a lot of areas and knocked a lot of perceptions,” said Krista Hill-Combs, member of the Geary Riley Saline Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.
Giovanni’s message stating that we are all in this together and that we all need to grow up hit home for Hill-Combs, who has been a fan of Giovanni since the early 70s. She said being in the same sorority as Giovanni made this night more special for her.
At the end of the event, Anita Easterwood, BSU president and senior in fine arts, Mercedes Perry, BSU vice president and junior in management, and Wells presented Giovanni with the Stacy Hall Humanitarian Award. In addition, Giovanni gave away 20 copies of a book about Toni Morrison. She also posed for pictures with several people from the audience.
Giovanni said she was surprised by the audience’s diversity, but found it to be an excellent aspect of the crowd.
“The more we know, the better for all of us,” she said.