Renowned Poet Nikki Giovanni Coming to Claflin University on Oct. 16

Oct 10, 2014

Orangeburg, S.C. – Claflin University will kick off a special series of events celebrating its 145th anniversary with world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

Giovanni’s appearance, which is also a part of the University’s Lyceum Series, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Moss Auditorium in W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

Over the past 30 years, Giovanni’s outspokenness – in her writing and in lectures – has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others. 

Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tenn., and grew up in Lincoln Heights, an all-black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Fisk University, her grandfather's alma mater, in 1968, and attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book. Early in her career, she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing, she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and one of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends."

Many of Giovanni's books have received honors and awards, and her spoken word recordings have also achieved widespread recognition and honors. The recipient of some 25 honorary degrees, and has been named “Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle MagazineThe Ladies Home Journal and Ebony Magazine. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities

The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. For more information about Giovanni, visit

Additional Lyceum Series events at Claflin University include:

  • February 12, 2015 – An evening with opera singer Carolina Gibson, sponsored by the Program Committee and Academic Student Activities
  • February 24, 2015 – Columbia City Ballet presents segments from “Off the Wall and on to the Stage,” an Alonzo Webster Wright Lyceum Series event

A Lyceum Series program will also be held in April 2015 during Claflin’s Arts and Letters Annual Bash. All programs will be held in Moss Auditorium in W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center, and are free and open to the public.

A complete schedule of 145th anniversary events will be announced at a later date.

For more information about Claflin University’s Lyceum Series, call Dr. Peggy S. Ratliff at 803-535-5233 or email

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