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OCU’s Distinguished Speakers Series Welcomes Author Azar Nafisi and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City University invites the campus and community to attend lectures given by Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai Oct.1 and renowned author Azar Nafisi Oct. 14. Both speakers will give their lectures in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center located at N.W. 27th Street and Florida Avenue. The events are free to the public and begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and seating is limited. Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace in Kenya. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental non-government organization that has now planted over 40 million trees to help prevent soil erosion in Kenya becoming affectionately known as the Tree Mother of Africa. She has chaired the National Council of Women of Kenya, served on the U.N. Commission for Global Governance and the Commission on the Future, was elected to Kenya’s Parliament, was elected as the first president of the Africa Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council and is the Assistant Minister in the Ministry for the Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife. Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. The Distinguished Speakers Series will host a special presentation of the 2008 documentary “Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai” a film by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Meinders School of Business located at N.W. 27th and McKinley. Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” which electrified its readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. Expelled from the faculty of the University of Tehran in 1981 for refusing to wear the Islamic veil, Nafisi did not return to teaching until 1987. She is a visiting professor and the director of the SAIS Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. She conducted workshops in Iran for women students on the relationship between culture and human rights; the material culled from these workshops formed the basis of a new human rights education curriculum. Azar Nafisi has earned national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran's intellectuals, youth and especially young women. The Distinguished Speakers Series at Oklahoma City University was established to enrich the academic experience of students, faculty and staff. The event is free and open to the public. Previous Distinguished Speakers include Edward Albee, Jane Goodall, Eli Wiesel, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Jonathan Kozol, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Sister Helen Prejean. For more information call (405) 208-4956 or visit