Release Date: January 23, 2007
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, will be the keynote speaker for the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event at the University at Buffalo, to be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.
The sponsor for the lecture, which is being presented as part of UB's Distinguished Speakers Series, is the UB Minority Faculty and Staff Association.
Named by Time magazine as "one of the 100 most influential people in the world," Maathai is a champion for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation.
The recipient of a doctorate from the University of Nairobi in 1971, she was the first woman in Central and East Africa to earn a doctorate. She chaired the National Council of Women in Kenya during much of the 1980s and founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM), a broad-based, grassroots organization focusing on empowering people to improve their community's quality of life by protecting their environment. GBM has facilitated the planting of 30 million trees in Kenya.
The movement's Pan-African Network trains individuals from throughout the continent to return to their own countries and share GBM's approach to community building, conservation and development of tree-planting programs. Initiatives based on the GBM model have been established successfully in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Maathai has served on the U.N. Commission for Global Governance and the Commission on the Future. In 2002, she was elected to Kenya's Parliament and appointed assistant minister for the environment.
In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, she is the recipient of the Légion d'Honneur -- France's highest honor -- and the Disney Conservation Fund Award.
Tickets to the Maathai lecture can be purchased at the Center for the Arts box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.