Former president of Poland Lech Walesa to visit Wayne State University during landmark Detroit visit


DETROIT, Oct. 14, 2010 — Lech Walesa, the first democratically elected president in postwar Poland. He will host a press conference at Wayne State University to announce the opening of the “Solidarnosc: Poland’s Struggle for Freedom” exhibit at the Walter P. Reuther Library, open to the public Oct. 27, 2010-July 1, 2011. He also will discuss the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Solidarity (Solidarnosc in Polish) trade union and its effect on Poland and all of Eastern Europe. Other topics that Walesa is available to address with the news media include the U.S. labor movement and the state of labor in Poland and Europe.

A former worker at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, Walesa is noted for emerging in 1980 as the leader of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the Soviet Bloc. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his contributions to labor and human rights movements throughout Europe. While in Detroit, Walesa will meet privately with business, community, government and labor leaders.


Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010, 10-11:30 a.m.


The McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University located at 495 Ferry Mall, Detroit, MI 48202.


Mike Smith, director of the Walter P. Reuther Library, traveled to Poland earlier this month to meet with the country’s labor leaders and orchestrate details of the Walesa visit. According to Smith, Walesa said he was honored to come to Detroit to announce the opening of the “Solidarnosc” exhibit, which pays tribute to the historic victory of his union in the 1980s and the pivotal role it played in contributing to the fall of communism in Poland and Eastern Europe.

The exhibit will feature photos, posters and materials from the Reuther Library labor archives. Photos highlight significant events in the history of Poland’s labor movement from the 1980 labor strike at the shipyards in Gdansk to the 1989 signing of the Round Table Agreement with the government on behalf of Solidarnosc.

The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs is the largest labor archive in North America. Its mission is to collect, preserve and provide access to the documentary and visual heritage of the American labor movement, related reform movements and individual participants.

Please call Francine Wunder at (313) 577-8155 by Friday, Oct. 22, for a press pass. RSVPs are required.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

  • Contact: Francine Wunder
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