Black History Month Spotlight: Archie Givens Jr.

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Lindsey LaBelle
Web Editorial Assistant


As he received center court honors at the Target Center, it was clear Archie Givens Jr. understands the profound impact that athletics can have on the community. A member of the University of Minnesota football team from 1963 – 1966, Givens has been a dedicated supporter of the University of Minnesota. Now, as president of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, he looks to build a legacy of education for the community at large.

“I think what really got our attention was to be able to capture a collection of African American literature, rare books,” Givens said, citing Phillis Wheatley as the first African American woman to publish a book, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," in 1773. “We wanted to keep it growing, and keep it maintained.”

The Givens family joined forces with other proponents of this cause and began acquiring books for the collection, then looked to the University of Minnesota’s staff, curators and historians to catalog and ensure the collection would continue to serve as a resource for the community.

The Givens Foundation enriches cultural awareness and learning through programs that promote and celebrate black literature and writers. The Givens Foundation programs engage nearly 4,000 students, educators and readers and writers in the Twin Cities each year.

“We wanted to be able to give from the African American community to the larger community,” Givens said after his center-court honors. “That’s what really what inspired us, to make it a gift from our community for generations to come.”

Timberwolves senior vice president Ted Johnson presented him with a Timberwolves autographed basketball before the Wolves took on the New Orleans Hornets. Throughout Black History Month, the Timberwolves are honoring leaders who have dedicated their time to making a difference in the community, and Archie Givens Jr. is a true benefactor who is passionate education and community outreach.

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