In Minnesota and throughout the nation the name Archie Givens – Senior or Junior — is synonymous with the rich legacy of African American literature.
Archie Givens, Sr. was a noted Minnesota business leader with a passion for collecting the very best of African American literature of his era. The Archie Givens Senior Collection of African American Literature is now housed at the University of Minnesota Libraries. The collection includes over 8,000 volumes representative of a broad range of African American literary genre dating back to 1773. Among the holdings are the archives of the Penumbra Theater, manuscripts, fiction, nonfiction, even letters of African American authors.
There is a beautiful documentary based on the Givens collection which was described in an earlier post on this blog.
In celebration of Black History Month, Minneapolis downtown workers and visitors will have a chance to catch a glimpse of the wonders of the collection. Books from the Givens collection will be on display at the Hennepin Gallery at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street through February 26. Many of the books on exhibit are rare first editions, some of which have been out of print for decades. Some of the books are actually signed by the author; others include covers designed by well-known artists.
The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m – 6:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, Archie Givens Jr. continues to support his father’s literary passion. Time is short but it is not too late to attend a related African American literary event, this one sponsored in part by Archie Givens, Jr. as part of Black History Month. Since 2004 The Givens Foundation for African American Literature and the Friends of the U of M Libraries have sponsored the NOMMO African American Authors Series. (NOMMO is a Dogon word meaning “the magic power of the word”
This year the featured artist is poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller. He will read from his work and discuss the state of the art of African American literature with U of M professor Alexs Pate. The event is Wednesday, February 6, 7:00 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center, 301 19th Avenue South on the U of M West Bank.
Tickets are $15, no charge for U of M students, members of the Givens Foundation and Friends of the U of M Libraries. 612 624 2345.