The Memorial Union Theatre was abuzz Wednesday night as world-renowned poet Nikki Giovanni spoke about her experiences as a writer, educator and lifelong activist.
For the past 30 years, Giovanni has been a prominent voice, discussing the public discourse on issues of social inequality within the US and the world through her writing.
Distinguished by numerous honors and awards, Giovanni began the lecture by expressing her beliefs in social liberties and their connection to higher education. According to her, students begin to think critically about societal problems in college.
Reflecting on her own education at the Fisk University in Tennessee during the 1960s, Giovanni said she was able to connect with her fellow African American students to discuss racial and gender inequalities of the time.
Referencing last year’s collective bargaining protests, Giovanni commended students and Madison residents for their attempts to create social change.
Along with one of her most famous poems, "Tennessee by Birth", Giovanni also shared two of her new poems, including a poetic homage to the Civil Rights Movement entitled "For Rosa." She said she wrote the poem, which discusses the tragedies and victories of the Civil Rights Movement, to her friend and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Encouraging people of all backgrounds to express their voice, she said “there’s no reason you should be afraid of anything.”