Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú to Visit, Speak at U of A

Rigoberta Menchú.
Courtesy of PeaceJam

Rigoberta Menchú.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Rigoberta Menchú, the Mayan activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, will deliver the 2015 Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, in the Arkansas Union Verizon Ballroom at the University of Arkansas. The event is free and open to the public. For security reasons people are discouraged from bringing backpacks or large bags into the Ballroom, and these will be subject to search.

Menchú, a member of the K'iche' ethnic group in Guatemala, will deliver the lecture in Spanish, with an interpreter.

She will bring books to sell and sign following the lecture. All sales will be cash only. Proceeds from the sale go to support the charitable work done by her foundation.

Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the struggle of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples during and after her country’s Civil War. Her testimonial biography I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983), established her international reputation. She became the first indigenous person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and continues to work for peace, justice for her people, and international human rights initiatives.

“We are deeply honored that Dr. Menchú is coming to the University of Arkansas,” said Kirstin Erickson, director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. “She has worked tirelessly to promote peace, human rights, and the well-being of indigenous peoples, and her testimonial biography has inspired an entire generation.”

On Thursday, Oct. 8, a day-long symposium, “Menchú’s Legacy: Indigenous Women’s Activism, Social Justice, and the Mayan Diaspora” will feature 10 experts on indigenous rights and social justice. Panel discussions will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Multicultural Center Lecture Hall, Room 403 of the Arkansas Union. The event will conclude at 5 p.m. in Ozark Hall Auditorium with a keynote lecture by Arturo Arias, one of the foremost experts on Menchú and her work.

“This symposium is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students – and the entire community – to hear from one of the most remarkable women of our time, and about the cause of human rights throughout the Americas and, in fact, the world,” said Todd Shields, dean of J. William Fulbright College. “This event is definitely in the spirit and tradition of Senator Fulbright. I want to congratulate the Latin American and Latino Studies Program for their hard work putting all of these events together, as well as all of the scholars from Fulbright College contributing their expertise to the symposium. We are humbled to have this distinguished guest visit our campus.”

Menchú will not attend the symposium, but she will be on campus for two days the following week and take part in two public events in addition to her lecture.

She will join the Trail of Tears Commemorative Walk at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12. The walk will begin at the ARKU Connections Lounge and will end at the Trail of Tears Park at the corner of Stadium Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“A Conversation with Dr. Rigoberta Menchú” will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 in the Helen Robson Walton Reading Room in Mullins Library on campus. This free event is open to the public, but seating is limited and preference will be given to students and members of the Latino community. The conversation will be conducted in Spanish and through an interpreter.

The Menchú symposium, lecture and other events have been co-organized by the Latin American and Latino Studies Program in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and the Hispanic Heritage Committee of Northwest Arkansas.

Menchú’s visit is sponsored by the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lectures series; Latin American and Latino Studies Program; Hispanic Heritage Month Committee; Student Distinguished Lectures Committee; The Office of the Dean, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; PeaceJam; Honors College; Latino Alumni Society; University of Arkansas Libraries; Department of English; Department of History; Office of Latino Academic Advancement and Community Relations; Department of Political Science; International Studies Program; Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education; and the Native American Studies Committee.

The Menchú symposium is sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies Program; J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; Honors College; University of Arkansas School of Law; Gender Studies Program; Office of Diversity Affairs; Office of Latino Academic Advancement and Community Relations; and the Native American Studies Committee.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Kirstin Erickson, director, Latin American and Latino Studies
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences

Steve Voorhies, manager, media relations
University Relations


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