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21st Annual Mary Frances Early Lecture
Each year, an invited speaker delivers a lecture that honors the quiet determination and dignity with which Mary Frances Early pursued her efforts to ensure that the state’s flagship university became an institution of higher learning for all people of Georgia. The annual lecture demonstrates the progress that has been made while also recognizing that work still remains in order to fully realize Ms. Early’s vision.
This year, Nikki Giovanni, Poet, Educator & Best-Selling Author, will deliver the lecture. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.
When Giovanni’s poems first emerged from the Black Rights Movement in the 1960s, she immediately took her place among the most celebrated and controversial poets of the era. She remains today one of the commanding voices gracing Americas political and poetic landscape.
Throughout her career, Giovanni has written words that last. Her distinctive style presents the truth, committing passion to the fight for social justice. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes, and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea were all honored with NAACP Image Awards. Her childrens picture book, Rosa, about civil rights legend Rosa Parks, became a Caldecott Honors Book and a New York Times bestseller. Her Racism 101 is part of college curricula, offering a bold and compelling portrait of Americans on all sides of the race issue.
Giovanni is the recipient of a NAACP Image Award, Langston Hughes Medal for poetry and the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award. She has been named woman of the year by Mademoiselle, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony. Oprah has called her one of the twenty-five living legends.
This year’s lecture is a 60th anniversary of desegregation event.