Please join University of Maryland University College President Susan C. Aldridge, faculty, alumni, staff, and students to hear this extraordinary man discuss “Democracy: The Never-Ending Battle”
WHEN: Wednesday, March 29, 2006. Keynote Lecture, 7 p.m. in Auditorium. Reception Following Lecture in Ballroom
WHERE: Inn And Conference Center, 3501 University Boulevard East, Adelphi, MD 20783
RSVP: Visit the University website to RSVP. RSVP early. Seating is limited.
Lech Walesa examines the subject of democracy with the eyes of a worker, of one who began his career as an electrician and whose early experience was marked by the harsh realities of a nation devastated by war and communist oppression.
Walesa’s involvement in worker’s rights started in 1970, but the turning point in his career came in August 1980, when the employees of the Gdansk shipyard went on strike. Walesa, who had already been fired from the shipyard for his labor activities, climbed over the perimeter wall to join and ultimately lead the occupation strike. That strike led to strikes throughout Poland and finally a short–lived recognition of a free labor union Solidarity. The struggle for the rights of Polish workers begun in Gdansk created a chain reaction that would change the face of Eastern Europe.
Despite a declaration of martial law and communist attempts to outlaw the union, Solidarity would not be crushed.
With the support of fellow Pole Pope John Paul II and the United States, Solidarity, with Walesa as its leader, continued underground. In 1988, another round of strikes forced the communist regime once again to negotiate with the workers, eventually leading to free elections.
Walesa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and became Poland’s first noncommunist president in 1990. Today he heads the Lech Walesa Institute, which is dedicated to advancing the ideals of democracy and free market reform throughout Eastern Europe and the rest of the world. He and his wife Danuta have been married 36 years and have eight children.