The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro is presenting a show that poetry lovers should really enjoy – “An Evening with Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s First African-American Poet Laureate” – which is part of a whole slate of activities this coming weekend that mark the 60th Anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-In civil rights protest that began on Feb. 1, 1960.
Green will appear at the museum in downtown Greensboro for a poetry reading and a book-signing reception on Friday, Jan. 31. The reception, which will precede the reading, will begin “promptly” at 6 p.m. according to museum officials – with the poetry reading to follow at 7 p.m.
Green is the first African-American – and the third woman – to serve as the state’s poet laureate – a position meant to promote poetry in North Carolina and to enhance the state’s cultural life.
Green, who was born in Orange County, North Carolina, is a 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and was a recipient of the NC Award for Literature in 2003. She’s been active in the state’s literary and teaching community for over four decades and has written eight books of poetry as well as one play. She’s also co-edited two poetry anthologies.
The state’s poet laureate is on a mission to educate North Carolina residents about poetry, an art form that’s lost some of its notoriety in modern times.
Green, who currently teaches “Documentary Poetry” at Duke University, has taught classes all over the state at libraries, universities and community colleges.
The reading and reception, like many of the events at the museum, is free and open to the public.
Museum officials have been planning a lot of public-facing activities for the museum this year since it’s the 60th Anniversary of the Sit-In civil rights protest movement that started at the lunch counter of the downtown Woolworth’s building that’s now the site of the museum.
On Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, the museum is also presenting a play –“Thank You Greensboro 4” – about a young girl growing up in Greensboro and her encounter with the 1960 Sit-In.
Those performances are also free and open to the public.
Museum staff will be very busy all weekend because, on the evening of Feb. 1, the museum is also holding its giant 2020 Gala at the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum. Each year, that gala is the biggest fundraising event for the civil rights museum.