CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lech Walesa to speak at UI
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize, will speak at the University of Iowa April 1
at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union. Walesa's lecture,
"Solidarity: The New Millennium" is sponsored by the UI Lecture
In 1980 Walesa led the 10 million-member Solidarity labor movement to
an agreement with the Polish government to grant the movement legal recognition
and to grant workers the right to form independent unions and to strike.
This was a short lived agreement, however, and by December 1981, the Polish
government declared martial law, suspended the activities of all unions,
and arrested thousands of Solidarity members, including Walesa. In the
fall of 1982, the government officially outlawed Solidarity. Walesa was
released that same fall and continued his leadership of Solidarity as an
underground organization. Celebrated world wide as a symbol of the hope
for freedom, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
For the next five years, the country became marked more and more by
chaos and labor unrest. Acknowledging that it could no longer control the
country, the government re-legalized Solidarity and invited it to join
the Communist Party in forming a coalition government. In the resulting
election, Solidarity won almost every contest. Having brought the Communist
government to its knees, Walesa was elected president of Poland Dec. 9,
1990 in the first democratic election in the country since before World
War II. He won more than 74 percent of the vote.
Walesa, who is currently on a U.S. lecture tour, will deliver his lecture
in Polish, and it will be translated as he speaks. This is the first time
the Lecture Committee has invited a lecturer who does not speak English,
said Shirin Sadeghi, Lecture Committee chair. "We're pretty proud
of that," she said. "It shows the diversity and open-mindedness
of the committee." She added that one of the reasons the committee
chose Walesa as a speaker was to complement the human rights initiatives
of Global Focus: Human Rights 1998, the university-wide celebration of
the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
Following his lecture, Walesa will take questions from the audience.
There will be a reception after the presentation. For further information
about the program, contact the UI Lecture Committee at (319) 335-3255.
(Editors note: Walesa will hold a question/answer session for the
media on the IMU sunporch at 5 p.m. April 1.)