The University Record, September 8, 1992

South Africa’s Suzman to deliver annual Wallenberg Lecture

Helen Suzman, former senior front-bencher in South Africa’s House of Assembly, will deliver the annual Raoul Wallenberg Lecture, titled “South Africa in Transition: Past and Present Influences,” at 8 p.m. Sept. 16 in the Rackham Auditorium.

President James J. Duderstadt will present the Raoul Wallenberg Medal to Suzman. The lecture and medal were established in honor of University alumnus Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews at the end of World War II.

Suzman will participate in an informal discussion session sponsored by the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 in the Robert E. Hayden Lounge, 111 W. Engineering Bldg. Part of the CAAS Dialogue Series, the session is free and open to the public.

Although Suzman began her parliamentary career in 1953 as a United Party representative in the South African House of Assembly, she and other liberal members eventually broke away to form the Progressive Party. In 1961, Suzman was the only member of her new party to win a seat and for the next 13 years was the sole representative of the Progressive Party in the House of Assembly. She remained the only woman member in the House for an additional six years.

Suzman has concentrated her energies on such issues as detentions without trial, human rights and the prison system. Even when unable to effect change, she often forced the government to make public the details of the application and enforcement of laws.

Suzman has received 18 honorary doctorates. She received the United Nation’s Human Rights Award, the Berlin Senate’s Moses Mendelssohn Award and was named Honorary Dame Commander of the British Empire.

Previous recipients of the Raoul Wallenberg Medal are Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel and Jan Karski, courier for the Polish resistance and an early witness to the Holocaust.

Established in 1985, the Raoul Wallenberg Endowment funds the annual lecture and medal presentation, and provides support each year for one or two doctoral students whose scholarly work is related to the goals and values of the lectureship. The endowment is made possible through the contributions of nearly 500 individuals and organizations from the United States, Canada and Europe.

In addition to the University Wallenberg Lecture, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning since 1972 has sponsored an annual lecture to honor Wallenberg.