Shippensburg University welcomed award-winning poet, Nikki Giovanni, Feb. 27 in H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center in honor of Black History Month.
SU President Laurie Carter introduced Giovanni to the audience. Giovanni visited the university in conjunction with the 35th H.O.P.E. Diversity Scholarship Dinner and Program.
Giovanni opened her lecture by telling the audience the importance of her hooded white jacket. She said she wore the hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Florida boy who was shot by police.
“Maybe we can convince cops to stop shooting us in the back,” Giovanni said.
“What makes white people so afraid of people of color?” Giovanni asked. “Race is a dumb idea,” she added.
Giovanni wrote “Reflections on April 4, 1968” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. The poem details what happened the day of King’s death and black Americans’ response.
Giovanni also emphasized the importance of voting.
“It doesn’t matter to me who you vote for, just vote,” Giovanni said. “I believe if you’re old enough to get your license, you are old enough to vote.”
Giovanni read her second poem, “2020,” to the audience.
“They agreed that all men and women were created equal, folks vote to make us free.” Giovanni said.
She finished the poem by telling the audience that everybody has a voice and it is important to use it.
Giovanni shared her life experiences and opinions, from battling breast cancer to her opinions on United States President Donald Trump.
“I might not change the world, but the world won’t change me,” Giovanni said.
Giovanni talked about her childhood growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her mother and father were not in a happy marriage. Giovanni recalls that at night she would hear her father argue and hit her mother.
She emphasized her view that daughters were important and shared her favorite poem, “I Married my Mother.” Giovanni wrote the poem after her father was in the hospital after he had a stroke.
In his final days, Giovanni’s father lived in her house with her mother, where she demanded he treat her with respect.
“Momma, you should’ve married me,” she recalled telling her mother.
The H.O.P.E. Diversity Scholarship was established in March 1983. It gives academically talented and financially deserving students the opportunity to receive an education at SU.
H.O.P.E. sponsors 27 scholar students for the 2019-2020 school year: Alvina Belcher, Elizabeth Carrillo, Jordan Cook, Sarah Diaz Perez, Emily Franklin, Latia Geiger, Aunbrielle Green, Brittney Horton, Manisha Kapoor, Ashleigh Kennedy, Courtney King, Alycia LaLuz, Adeline Linzau, Alfonso Lopez Martinez, Hunter Milliner, Suphawat Nambuppha, Jaida O’Neal-Sloane, Deanna Peebles, Megan Puig, Amelia Rhoads, Natalie Rodriguez, Brendan Rosenberger, Bryan Rottkamp, Brayden Smiley, Maria Snodgrass, Taylen Torres and Stephen Washington.