Sonia Sanchez to visit Kent State as part of 50th Commemoration of May 4, 1970

Sonia Sanchez, a recipient of the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award, will speak at Kent State University on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the KIVA auditorium on the Kent campus. 


Sanchez’s visit is part of the year long 50th Commemoration of the events of May 4, 1970 at Kent State. Sanchez will discuss how poetry, civil rights, student activism, and peace can enact change; these themes are as relevant now as they were in 1970, and they take on new significance in the context of the 50th anniversary of May 4th. 


A writer, poet, activist, and playwright, Sanchez earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Hunter College in 1955 before continuing her studies at New York University with the poet Louise Bogan. As an educator, she is credited with pioneering a black studies course in 1968 at the institution that became San Francisco State University. She has lectured at more than 500 campuses and spent forty years teaching at schools such as the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University in Philadelphia. 


Sanchez published her first poetry collection, “Homecoming,” in 1969 and has since published more than a dozen collections. Sanchez’s work is renowned for its musicality and repetition, as well as for its central theme of love, particularly of love that goes beyond one’s private relationships and concerns the public self and one’s interactions with the world. 


In addition to her Anisfield-Wolf recognition and numerous other accolades with which she has been recognized throughout her career, Sanchez also received the Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award in 2018. 


Members of the Kent State community are excited to welcome Sanchez for this commemorative event. David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, says of Sanchez, “As a poet, playwright, professor, activist and one of the foremost leaders of the Black Studies movement, Sonia Sanchez has been a hugely influential voice and thought leader in our culture. We are thrilled and honored to welcome her to Kent State.”


The Kent State University Honors College is also delighted to be involved in hosting Sanchez for this event, says Dr. Alison J. Smith, Honors College dean. Of Sanchez, Dr. Smith writes, “An activist and teacher, a poet and a playwright, she is an iconic figure pointing the way on the landscape of change. She will be receiving the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award in September during Cleveland Book Week, in honor of her contribution to the literature of social justice. Her visit to our campus is a wonderful opportunity for students to join the conversation!”


This event is sponsored by University College, the Honors College, the Wick Poetry Center, Kent State’s Department of English, Graduate Studies, Kent State’s Department of Pan-African Studies, the Cleveland Foundation, and the 50th Commemoration of May 4 Planning Committees. There is no cost to attend and all are welcome. More information about this event can be found at



Media Contact:

Frank Congin,, (330) 672-2312

POSTED: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 5:11pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 5:15pm
Nina Palattella, Kent State University Honors College Intern