July 24, 2023

1992 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum

The Liza and Jack Lewis Center of the Americas at UIW will host the second lecture of the Leaders of the Americas Speaker Series on October 4. The series was created to give the UIW community, students, faculty and staff the opportunity to hear from leaders and dignitaries who have impacted society through their life’s work. The speaker for the 2023 lecture will be Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum, one of the most important champions of native people’s rights in the modern history of the Americas, and particularly of the rights of the K’iché and all Mayan peoples in Menchú’s native Guatemala.

“The opportunity to bring Rigoberta Menchú to our campus is special and timely,” said Dr. Rafael Hoyle, director of the Lewis Center of the Americas. “Her lifelong dedication to service and her defense of human rights aligns directly with the work that UIW’s founders, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, have advanced for decades in indigenous villages and communities of the Americas. Our founders inspired UIW’s tradition of international service programming, including two programs that took place just this summer in Ms. Menchu’s native Guatemala. One of these programs, led by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, and UIW Professor of Nutrition Dr. Bethe Senne-Duff, was in collaboration with a non-governmental organization founded by UIW alumni to help underserved Guatemalan children.”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

“Ms. Menchú’s work certainly exemplifies the search for social justice that is at the heart of UIW’s Mission,” added Hoyle. “Her forthcoming presentation, furthermore, will be a perfect follow-up to the inaugural Lewis Center lecture delivered last year by former Mexican President Vicente Fox with his focus on immigration. The phenomenon of immigration in the Americas, and specifically the arrival of immigrants to the United States through the U.S.- Mexico border, cannot be separated from the socio-economic conditions and acts of injustice that have led millions to emigrate from their Central American homelands, mostly heading north to the United States through Mexico. We will not solve the crisis of immigration without addressing and understanding the conditions that have plagued Central America for centuries. Ms. Menchú has dedicated her life to shedding light on these conditions and encouraging humanity to act.”

Mr. Vicente Fox, 62nd President of Mexico and the 2022 guest speaker for the Leaders of the Americas Speaker Series

Menchú’s struggle for human rights began through her participation, while she was still a teenager, in social justice efforts led by the Catholic Church. The trajectory that followed would be filled with terrible moments of sacrifice, suffering and loss of family members at the hands of opponents of the struggle for justice, as was documented in My Name is Rigoberta Menchú and This is How my Conscience was Born, a book that brought Menchú international renown. Menchú’s perseverance and commitment to her cause kept her on a journey that was deservedly recognized when she won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1992.

The visit to UIW Broadway campus by a Nobel Laureate marks another historic first for the University because of the work of the Lewis Center and the success of the Leaders of the Americas Series. 62nd President of Mexico, Vicente Fox’s visit to campus was the first to UIW by a former President of any nation. Hoyle continued, “It is extremely rewarding to have speakers of this caliber as our guests. By bringing them we are not only enriching the experiences of our University community, but we are also contributing to San Antonio’s identity as an international city and to Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s efforts to elevate the city’s global engagement on multiple fronts. Nirenberg helped us personally welcome Mr. Vicente Fox last year, and we look forward to having him on campus again to welcome Ms. Menchú.”

“Ms. Menchú’s work certainly exemplifies the search for social justice that is at the heart of UIW’s Mission."

Menchú’s schedule of activities on Oct. 4 will include her speech to the UIW community at the Diane Bennack Concert Hall in the Luella Bennack Music Center, and an evening panel and fundraising reception at the McCombs Center Rosenberg Sky Room. Both events will be live-streamed for the benefit of those who are unable to attend in person.

For more information, please contact Dr. Rafael Hoyle at hoyle@uiwtx.edu, or visit the Lewis Center website.

Photos provided by Asociación Menchú Tum