The University of Minnesota Libraries is saddened by the death of Archie Givens Jr., a businessman and philanthropist who served as an advocate and champion of the University of Minnesota and the Libraries. Givens Jr. died April 19 following a long illness with Alzheimer’s disease.
Givens Jr. and his family were instrumental in the fundraising efforts that in 1985 enabled the University of Minnesota Libraries to purchase what would become the Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature, in memory of his father.
Givens Jr. and his wife, Carol Meshbesher, were among the members of the Givens Patrons Council, which also included his mother, Phebe Mae Givens, and his sister, Roxanne Givens.
The Givens Collection consists of books and archival materials that document the history of black literature and culture — correspondence, pamphlets, screenplays, newspaper clippings, photographs, sheet music, and ephemera, including the Penumbra Theatre Company Archives and the papers of civil rights activist and former member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Josie Johnson.
Among his many contributions to the University of Minnesota, Givens Jr. served on the Friends of the University Libraries Board and was president of the University’s Alumni Association. He was an alumnus and played cornerback on the U of M football team.
As noted in this Star Tribune article following his death, Archie, “like other members of his family, championed arts, culture and literacy by giving his time and treasure to theaters, libraries, history projects and a raft of other civic causes. He also served on boards, including for the University of Minnesota and Penumbra Theatre, and contributed generously.”
We send our condolences to Givens Jr.’s wife, Carol, his sister, Roxanne, and the rest of his family and devoted friends.