At the end of today’s convocation at Virginia Tech, esteemed poet and professor Nikki Giovanni had an unenviable task.

The poet, who first became known as the “Princess of Black Poetry” in the late Sixties, and who is known for her love of Tupac Shakur (forever immortalized in a Thug Life tattoo she proudly wears on her body), had the eyes of the country upon her. She had to follow prayers by President Bush and close the ceremony with a speech that addressed Monday’s unfathomable tragedy. This is what she said.

(Click here to see the stirring video).

We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today and we will be sad for quite awhile. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to know when to cry and sad enough to know we must laugh again. We are Virginia Tech. We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did not deserve it but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, but neither do the invisible children walking the night to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory; neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech. The Hokier Nation embraces our own with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid. We are better than we think, not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imagination and the possibility we will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears, through all this sadness.

We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.”

I think her words were brave and beautiful.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

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