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UIC site for world conference of Nobel Peace Prize winners

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Jane Addams
Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the press conference at Hull-House Museum Thursday announcing a meeting of Nobel laureates to be held at UIC.

Photo: Joshua Clark

UIC will be the setting for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates next spring, the first time the summit has been held in the U.S., Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday at a press conference at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

“The first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, I think we all know, was Jane Addams. Given the history of Hull-House, it’s only fitting,” Emanuel said, speaking at the UIC museum that honors Addams, a 1931 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“I cannot overstate the significance and honor we share, to welcome the world’s leading proponents of human rights and peace among all peoples to Chicago and to the UIC campus,” said Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares after the press conference. 

With its theme, “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights,” the summit April 23-25 at the UIC Forum will emphasize youth involvement by partnering with the Chicago Public Schools and area universities.

Nobel laureates will visit high schools throughout the city to speak with students studying a “Speak Truth to Power” curriculum on human rights developed by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

“We’re making enormous effort to bring together as many people as possible in the city, the region, to participate in the summit,” said the center’s president, Kerry Kennedy, a member of the host committee.

Her brother, Christopher Kennedy, chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, is also on the host committee, as well as Terry Mazany, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, and Michael Sacks, vice chairman of World Business Chicago.

Kerry Kennedy said all the Nobel peace laureates will be invited to the summit. Past participants have included Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Muhammad Yunus and Frederik Willem De Klerk.

Co-chairs will be Gorbachev and Walter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome, with Emanuel as honorary co-chair.

The Nobel peace conference could provide some important lessons to the world leaders who will be in Chicago a few weeks later for the NATO and G8 summits, Emanuel said.

“The peace prize winners will help us talk about the importance of peace and stability as we meet challenges on the economic front,” he said.

Allen-Meares and U of I President Michael Hogan attended the press conference, along with other leaders including Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, and Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation.

“As the home of Jane Addams, her legacy permeates this institution,” Allen-Meares said.

“Her work on behalf of immigrants and her fellow citizens on the periphery of society laid the foundation for much of the social causes that we teach our youth today: the invaluable rights of all people, to dignity, health, security and a place as equals in our world.

“We look forward to integrating this prestigious occasion with the intellectual and academic missions at UIC.”


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