Poet discusses civil rights

The value of a nickel was one of the many ways, acclaimed author Nikki Giovanni taught students about the importance of civil rights, Thursday night.

Giovanni incorporated history and poetry to get the audience understand her beliefs about the last three decades of civil rights.

“It’s kind of hard for young people like those in the room to understand what a nickel means. If a nickel was on the floor very few of you would stoop to pick it up,” Giovanni said. “I want to take a moment to understand what a nickel really meant. Land was a nickel an acre. For the lack of a nickel, people were lynched, people were burned, people were beaten.”

Giovanni presented her topic seriously, but also used humorous examples to engage the audience. Applause and standing ovations were repeated throughout the event.

“I was happy with it (the lecture). The crowd was really interactive too. I was kind of impressed with that. I wasn’t sure how that would go, but they seemed very excited to have her,” said Amy Bortzfield , the ULS Student Director.

Thursday night’s lecture took place in the Marshall Center Oval Theater. A crowd of about 300 gathered to see Giovanni speak, Bortzfield said.
ULS experienced some minor difficulties during the questions and answer session. Giovanni felt like she couldn’t see over the podium, so they had to make adjustments with their microphone equipment.

“The Q & A could have been a little smoother,” Bortzfield said. “We were supposed to have two microphones, but we had to transfer one of them to use for her microphone, so it made it (go) a little slower.”

After the question and answer session Giovanni was presented with tokens of appreciation by the Tampa chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Black Emphasis Month Committee.

Nicole Crawford, a graduate student majoring in social work and public health said she thoroughly enjoyed Giovanni’s lecture.

“I think it was inspiring, and motivational. It was everything I hoped it would be,” she said.