The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) will host Nikki Giovanni who will engage with educators across the state on June 6, from 1 to 2 p.m. as part of a keynote presentation on equity titled “Nikki Giovanni Speaks.” The virtual event is free and open to the Maryland education community.

MSDE Division of Curriculum, Instructional Improvement and Professional Learning offers diverse professional learning opportunities to educators every summer. Giovanni’s presentation serves as the pinnacle of ongoing professional development focused on educational equity and antiracism in the Department’s summer professional development program.

Giovanni, one of America’s foremost poets, will talk about the role of art and education in social justice and share reflections of the Black Arts Movement. Publishing more than 30 books, she is internationally known for her work as a poet, author, essayist, activist and educator. The Tennessee native has also been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and Ebony Magazine, received more than 25 honorary degrees and Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia.

Giovanni also serves as a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and is a recipient of Virginia Tech’s highest honor, the Alumni Outreach award.

In support of its mission of equity and excellence, the State Board approved COMAR 13A.01.06, Educational Equity in 2019. This heralded an intense focus on taking deliberate action to ensure that all Maryland students have equitable access to the “educational rigor, resources, and supports that are designed to maximize the student’s academic success and social/emotional wellbeing.”

This opportunity is made available to all Maryland educators through the collaboration between AEMS and the MSDE Offices of Fine Arts, Professional Learning, Equity, and English/Language Arts.

Space is limited and registration is required to receive a link for this event. Attendees can register at

The poem below, “Knoxville Tennessee,” one of Giovanni’s most celebrated works, paints a perfect picture of the activities many Americans enjoyed during the recent Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy.

Knoxville Tennessee

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy’s garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
At the church
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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