Nobel Peace Prize winner gives public talk Friday

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of Rigoberta Menchu .


KALAMAZOO--Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum will present a public talk at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom on the Western Michigan University campus.

The talk, "Voices on the Margins," is the 10th anniversary Nobel public address sponsored by the Great Lakes PeaceJam, a Kalamazoo-based affiliate of the PeaceJam Foundation. It will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book-signing, during which Tum will autograph her books and have them available for purchase.

The event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 for those in groups of 10 or more, $15 for students and $20 for others. Tickets may be purchased at the door, and parking will be free at any metered space in the lots surrounding the Bernhard Center.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum

Tum received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her work toward justice and reconciliation based on respect for the rights of the Maya of Guatemala and native people everywhere. She is the first Indian and one of only a handful of women to receive the award. While in Kalamazoo, she will be headlining the annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference, set for Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, in the Bernhard Center.

As a peasant Mayan, Tum spoke out tirelessly against an oppressive military government in Guatemala. The world listened, and her efforts helped end the violence towards her people. Now, she continues to be a voice for equality.

Tum has firsthand knowledge of the 36-year civil war in Guatemala that was sparked in 1954 when the CIA overthrew the country's democratically elected government and backed a military takeover. During the ensuing decades of dictatorship, war and violence, some 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered, including Tum's two parents and two of her brothers, a sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews.

She vowed to continue working non-violently for the rights of her people and was finally forced into exile in 1981. Over time, Tum became the world spokesperson for the Guatemalan poor, and a powerful voice against the terrible oppression they suffered at the hands of the right-wing military.

PeaceJam is an international education program built around 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners who work personally with youth of all ages to inspire a new generation of peacemakers. Participating Nobel laureates include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the Dalai Lama. Since its inception in 1996, nearly 600,000 young people have participated in the program worldwide and more than 300,000 community service and peace projects have been developed and implemented.

Gret Lakes Peacejam

Great Lakes PeaceJam is a program of Seeding Change and serves the youth of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. It is largely funded largely by individual donors and organizations including the Fetzer Institute, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Visit for more information about Rigoberta Menchu Tum's Kalamazoo talk or Great Lakes PeaceJam.