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Nobel Peace Prize winner speaks Friday at WMU

by Deanne Puca

March 29, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
Adolfo Perez Esquivel
KALAMAZOO--Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina will discuss "The Grand Revolution is Peace" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom at Western Michigan University.

Esquivel's talk will be followed by a question and answer session. The event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 or $5 for students.

Great Lakes PeaceJam is sponsoring Esquivel's visit to Kalamazoo and is holding a reception honoring the Nobel Laureate, prior to his talk, at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Room 105 of the Bernhard Center. Admission is $50 per person and includes hors d'oeuvres and beverage ticket. Proceeds from the reception benefit PeaceJam. Reservations are required by Thursday, March 31, and may be made by calling (269) 492-7750 or online at

Esquivel headlines the ninth annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, on the WMU campus.

Adolfo Perez Esquivel

Esquivel was born in 1931 in Buenos Aires during a tumultuous time in political history for Argentina. Despite his family's poverty, he went to school and became a well-known artist. However, in 1974 he gave up his career to build a nonviolent movement for change in Latin America. He was named secretary-general of Servicio Paz y Justica, or SERPAJ, a group that coordinated nonviolent movements in the region.

After one of numerous military coups, Esquivel in 1977 was imprisoned and tortured by the Argentinean military for 14 months. He was released after being named Amnesty International's Political Prisoner of the Year in 1978, which led to thousands of letters written to the Argentinean government demanding his release.

He continued his work with SERPAJ after his release and was awarded the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership for human rights and true democracy for the people of Latin America. Today, Esquivel helps support two groups called the "Mothers" and "Grandmothers of May Square," women who are trying to bring out the truth about the crimes of the dictatorship and reunite with their children and families.


PeaceJam is an international education program built around 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the Dalai Lama, who work personally with young people to inspire a new generation of peacemakers. Since 1996, more than 500,000 teenagers worldwide have participated in PeaceJam, developing more than 300,000 community service and peace projects.

Great Lakes PeaceJam, based in Kalamazoo, is a program of Seeding Change and serves the youth of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. More than 2,500 young people have participated in Great Lakes PeaceJam programs since its inception in 2002. Funders of Great Lakes PeaceJam include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Irving S. Gilmore Foundation and numerous individual donors.