The newest hottest Spike Lee joint will be on Binghamton University’s campus, where the filmmaker will give a talk as part of Black History Month, hosted by the Black Student Union (BSU).
The month’s keynote speaker, however, will be legendary writer and activist Nikki Giovanni. Giovanni is known as one of the leaders of the Black Arts Movement, founded in the 1960s and infused with the themes of the Civil Rights Movement. She’s also a professor of English at Virginia Tech, her most-anthologized poems being “Knoxville, Tennessee” and “Nikki-Rosa.” Her most recent collection is “Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid,” published in 2013. Her talk will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Mandela Room, and open to the public.
Spike Lee, director of classics such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X,” will speak at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, in the Events Center. Lee’s also a professor himself: He is the artistic director of the Graduate Film Program and the Amy and Joseph Perella Chair at New York University (several of his students’ films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year). Lee’s most recent movie, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” which he famously funded through Kickstarter, won’t be screened on campus, but it was released last month on Vimeo and will be available in select theaters and on-demand on Feb. 13. The event is available to all students who bring BU IDs with them.
Initially, the BSU was planning to bring only one speaker to campus, according to Ridwan Olatilewa, BSU’s vice president and a senior majoring in computer science. The group couldn’t raise enough money for Lee’s speaker fees, but they were able to book Giovanni. Fortunately, just before winter break, Campus Activities; Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Multicultural Resource Center; and the Student Association Vice President for Multicultural Affairs — all of which are co-sponsoring the month’s events — were able to collect enough money to pay for Lee.
Lee planned to speak at Binghamton once before, in the spring of 1989, but ended up canceling his appearance.
Among the month’s many other events — all of which are free of charge — is a poetry jam by members of The Strivers Row, a New York City-based agency that represents mostly spoken-word artists.